Are Used Cars Covered Under Lemon Law?

Are Used Cars Covered Under Lemon Law?

Lemon law applies to cars that have a defect that cannot be repaired in a reasonable number of attempts while under warranty. Car lemon laws are typically related to new cars, but there is also coverage for used cars in certain circumstances. If you’ve been driving a defective used vehicle, there may be a remedy for your trouble.

To receive compensation, it’s imperative to understand the used car lemon law. You may be due a replacement vehicle or monetary compensation from the dealer or manufacturer. Used cars must still be covered by a warranty with inclusion for the unrepairable defect.

Call experienced lemon law lawyers to find out what you may be owed. While we’ve worked with thousands of new car owners to get compensation, we also help used car drivers get out of their lemons. Receive a free lemon law consultation to see what you may be owed.

This guide covers the car lemon law and explains how it applies to used cars. We also list the criteria for used car lemon laws so you know if you can take action.

What Is Lemon Law?

What Is Lemon Law?

Lemon laws exist to protect consumers from defective vehicles, both new and used. If the vehicle is covered by a warranty and there’s a defect that can’t be repaired in a reasonable number of attempts, you may be able to return the car or get a replacement.

For a car to qualify for lemon law in California, it must be covered by either a factory warranty (Certified Pre-Owned) or an extended warranty offered by the dealership. The issues causing problems must be covered under the warranty but be unrepairable, leaving you with a defective car. Examples of potential problems include mechanical failure, inability to use safety features and a lack of working comfort features that would be covered by the warranty period.

In most cases, lemon laws aim to protect new car drivers from defects, but you may also have a used car lemon that needs to be dealt with. Since 2013, all “Buy Here, Pay Here” dealerships have been required to offer a minimum 30-day/1,000-mile warranty on all used vehicles sold, ensuring better consumer protections. There’s also broad coverage for defects, including anything that impairs the vehicle’s use, value or safety. Therefore, the types of problems covered by lemon law could be anything from a ticking engine to squeaky brakes.

It’s important to pay attention to the California lemon law time limit to ensure your claim gets filed in time. While you could start a claim up to four years after the problem surfaced, you don’t want to wait too long or you could miss out on compensation. For that reason, we encourage our clients to start the lemon law process as soon as possible.

You must give the dealerships a reasonable amount of time to repair the issues. California Lemon Law requires a minimum of two repair attempts before the vehicle qualifies. The dealership can hold your car for repair for 30 days, but that time accounts for all attempted repairs.

What Are Used Car Lemon Laws?

What Are Used Car Lemon Laws?

Some used cars come with a service contract or an extended warranty that covers potential defects. The dealer doesn’t normally offer a lengthy warranty on the used vehicle, unless it is a Certified Pre-Owned car. However, the dealer warranty is all that’s needed for a used car to be deemed a lemon for unrepairable defects.

While lemon law applies to various used car situations, it can be slightly more difficult to navigate. Here are a few examples of where the used car lemon laws would apply.

  1. Stephen purchased a truck from a “Buy Here, Pay Here” dealership. Within the first week, the headlights started malfunctioning. The problem can’t be resolved even though the service center has tried four times and the truck has been in the shop for 35 total days.
  2. Juan bought a Certified Pre-Owned SUV from a new car dealership, but the air conditioning wasn’t working correctly. The dealership has attempted repairs under the factory warranty but is unable to fix it.
  3. Hannah can’t seem to get the tailgate on her hatchback working properly, even though she just bought the car from a dealership with an extended warranty. She has taken it back four times for repairs, but the problem keeps resurfacing.

While these cases are all very different, they all qualify for lemon coverage because the issues can’t be repaired while under warranty coverage. Repairs have been attempted and these problems have created either a safety issue, reduced the value or hindered the usability of the vehicle, making them eligible for the used car lemon law.

The average lemon law settlement in California can be anywhere from $5,000 to $100,000, but these are often lower when dealing with a used car. The reimbursement may include the original purchase price or you could opt for a replacement with a comparable car of relative market value.

State-by-State Analysis: Lemon Law for Used Cars

State-by-State Analysis: Lemon Law for Used Cars

Several states other than California have lemon laws for used cars. Connecticut, New Mexico, Massachusetts, New Jersey and Rhode Island all have coverage with some age and mileage restrictions. On the other hand, Arkansas, Georgia, Mississippi, Idaho, Montana, North Dakota, South Dakota, Vermont and West Virginia have no state laws for used cars.

With all of the states offering used car coverage, a written warranty must be included. The typical law also specifies that the car must be purchased through a dealership. Therefore, there are no lemon law protections when the vehicle is purchased through private sales or auto auctions.

Warranties and Used Car Lemon Law

Used vehicles must be covered by a warranty to qualify for lemon law. The issue must also be covered through the warranty work. With used cars, the warranty period can vary, with some dealerships only offering a 30-day/1,000-mile service contract plan. On the other hand, a Certified Pre-Owned car may still have the factory warranty coverage attached to it. Once the warranty expires, the lemon law protection disappears.

Implied warranties are spoken and unwritten promises given by a dealer. These warranties rarely receive coverage through lemon law, but there are other avenues of receiving compensation if the dealer was attempting to commit fraud. Express warranties relate to the promises made by the seller, either in writing or verbally, while a dealer warranty is binding and there’s paperwork for it.

For this reason, it’s essential to understand the warranty terms when purchasing a used car. You need to know what protection you have in case something should go wrong. Otherwise, you could have a defective used vehicle that requires thousands of dollars worth of work shortly after purchasing it.

How To File a Lemon Law Claim for a Used Car

How To File a Lemon Law Claim for a Used Car

If you believe your car qualifies as a lemon, you must gather all your documentation. Make sure you have the car warranty paperwork, whether it’s the manufacturer’s warranty or an express warranty implied by the dealership. You also need proof of the full purchase price and any other fees you paid, including work done at a repair shop, sales tax, and registration expenses. It’s also critical to have a record of the repairs and technicians you’ve spoken with.

Next, you must start the informal dispute settlement procedure by contacting either the manufacturer or the dealership. This step is part of the state’s lemon law, giving the manufacturer or dealer time to make the situation right without further action. By giving the dealer or manufacturer a reasonable opportunity to respond, you also increase your chances of a quick resolution.

You can request a full refund, less a reasonable allowance, or a comparable replacement vehicle due to the defects while the car has a written warranty. You must outline the safety concern or substantial defect that you have been dealing with. It’s also valuable to list every time the car was in the shop, showing that there were a reasonable number of attempts made to repair the vehicle. Keep a copy of the demand letter for your records.

From here, you may be offered an arbitration hearing to discuss the defective vehicle. In some cases, this option provides the fastest remedy, but there are times when litigation is a better choice. Ideally, you will have a lawyer involved at the start of the process who can guide you to the right decisions.

Alternatives to Lemon Law for Used Cars

Alternatives to Lemon Law for Used Cars

The California lemon law isn’t your only option if you need compensation. The Better Business Bureauis also a good place to start,especially with the BBB Auto Line program, which helps you settle a warranty dispute.

You can also file a report with the state’s attorney general. The attorney general gets involved in cases where multiple complaints surface about the same company or manufacturer, so it’s important to have your case recorded.

Federally, there are other laws that offer consumer protections. The Magnuson-Moss Warranty Act sets the guidelines on a federal level, while the Uniform Commercial Code gives all manufacturers a standard to abide by. Because they are federal laws, they are helpful in every state, even if there aren’t lemon laws. Whether you live in California or New York, these guidelines are all the same. They also apply to the used and new vehicle, for better consumer protection.

If lemon law coverage isn’t available for your vehicle, either because of the type of automobile it is, such as off-road vehicles and motor homes, or because you purchased it without a warranty (as is), there may be other avenues to consider. A lemon law attorney helps you navigate the circumstances to determine whether you are entitled to compensation. If you are dealing with a vehicle defect that substantially impairs its use, it’s best to have a consumer rights attorney on your side.

Tips for Buying a Used Car

Tips for Buying a Used Car

Buying new vehicles or leased cars comes with far fewer concerns than settling for a used car. With a new or leased car, you know the warranty protection it comes with, so you have more peace of mind. For this reason, you want to do your homework before buying pre-owned vehicles. Here are a few steps to consider:

Ask to see a vehicle history report. This report should give the service history from the previous owner and show if the car has been in any accidents. Accidents, recalls and other incidents can dramatically reduce the value of used vehicles.

Potential buyers should have the opportunity to test drive the vehicle. During this test drive, you may want to request a pre-purchase inspection from a local mechanic.

Carefully read the warranty coverage. You need to know the mileage limit and the term for dealing with vehicle problems. You may also be required to provide written notice if the same problem or major component defect continues after repeated attempts to repair it.

Want To File a Lemon Law Claim for Used Cars?

Whether you’ve bought a used or new vehicle, you should not have to deal with the same issue while it’s under warranty coverage. While things happen and cars break, there’s a reasonable allowance of time allowed for repairs. A reasonable period typically means two or fewer attempts, especially when dealing with a safety issue, but three repair attempts may also be acceptable in some cases.

The bottom line is that you can take legal action if you are driving a lemon. You don’t have to continue giving the dealership or manufacturer time to make things right. As a person entitled to a lawyer, we recommend getting a consultation as soon as possible. Auto manufacturers and dealerships are more willing to deal with lawyers than consumers, so we can help you get a resolution quickly. We know the law and we can help enforce it for your benefit.

Contact a lemon car lawyer in California to see what you might be owed. We have worked with thousands of drivers who have dealt with unrepairable car defects under normal use. With your free lemon law consultation, we can help you.

Visit our Lemon Law Attorney Practice in Beverly Hills for more guidance and support.

Call us today for a free consultation before time runs out to pursue your claim.

Phone: (800) 917-7147


Why Choose The Lemon Pros?

Our specialty is Lemon Law, that is why we only handle Lemon Law claims. When you hire us, our attorneys will do all the legal work for you, because we understand the stress that consumers like you deal with when they have a Lemon.

We have an excellent success record in representing consumers just like you! We are award winning attorneys, but that has not gotten to our heads. We are attorneys who care and give personalized attention to each and every client, our attorneys directly handle your claim.

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