When a consumer buys a new car and it is defective, there are protections that they can take. But what happens when a consumer buys a used car that is defective? The frustration of dealing with a defective, unfixable problem may leave you wondering whether you have any protections. Thankfully, the State of California provides protections to consumers who bought a previously-owned car that is classified as a lemon. Here, we will talk about what you need to know to take advantage of these laws.
What is the Lemon Law in California?
The California Lemon Law is also known as the Song-Beverly Consumer Warrant Act. The California Lemon Law requires that if the manufacturer or an authorized dealership cannot conform the vehicle to an express warranty within a reasonable number of tries, it must promptly replace or repurchase the product. To be covered by the lemon law in California, the issues with the vehicle generally must arise during the express warranty period. The lemon law covers:
- New cars, pickup trucks, vans, and SUVs
- Dealer-owned vehicles and demonstrators
- Used cars with remaining manufacturer warranty coverage bought from a dealership
- Vehicles purchased or leased primarily for business use for businesses with five or fewer vehicles
- Vehicles purchased or leased for personal, family, or household purposes
The California Lemon Law applies throughout the duration of the vehicle manufacturer’s original warranty period. California’s Lemon Law requires that the vehicle be purchased from a manufacturer or from a retail seller (e.g. a dealership). A consumer may still have a Song-Beverly claim even if they purchased a used car as long as it was bought was from a dealership. The car must still be under warranty, so it is important to read your warranty booklet and/or owner’s manual.
There are some instances when the California Lemon Law will not apply, even when the car is under warranty. For example, if the car was purchased from a private party, the consumer may not be able to bring a Song-Beverly Consumer Warranty Act lawsuit against the manufacturer. However, there may be other laws that can still provide assistance.
Does the California Lemon Law apply to used cars?
It depends. There are some situations where the Song-Beverly Consumer Warranty Act (California’s Consumer Lemon Law) will not apply used cars. But that doesn’t mean that buyers of used cars are left unprotected. Instead, California’s Consumers Legal Remedies Act (“CLRA”) may be used to protect consumers from used car dealers.
The CLRA contains broad language and can almost serve as a “used car” lemon law because it can allow buyers to file a claim if the dealer from whom they bought a used car gave them false or misleading information that the consumer relied on, or engaged in unfair or deceptive acts. There also has to be some harm involved with the deceptive practice to file a claim. Typical allegations include:
- Accident-damaged vehicles sold without notice to the buyer
- Sales made for higher prices than advertised
- Rental cars sold without disclosing the vehicle’s rental history
- Sale of “certified” pre-owned vehicles, when the vehicle did not meet the qualifications for the “certified” designation
There are time limitations and other requirements to file a claim under California’s Consumers Legal Remedies Act. It is beneficial to consult with an experienced attorney who knows your consumer rights.
Special Protections for Those Over 65 Years Old
The Elder Abuse and Dependent Adult Civil Protection Act in California provides remedies to seniors and dependent adults who are financially abused.
Under the Elder Abuse Act, an elder is considered to be a person over 65 years old. And a dependent adult is any person who has physical or mental limitations that restrict his or her ability to carry out normal activities or to protect his or her rights. Financial abuse happens when a person takes property of an elder or dependent adult for a wrongful use or with intent to defraud, or both. Under California law, a person is equally liable if they help someone else in financially abusing an elder or dependent adult.
With financial abuse of the elderly becoming more prevalent, it is important to discuss such claims with an experienced attorney. Especially, because many people do not even recognize financial abuse as a form of abuse.
Other Warranty Law Protections
The Federal lemon law, known as the Magnuson-Moss Warranty Act, also provides protections to consumers who purchase defective vehicles.
An Experienced Lemon Law Lawyer
Conn Law, PC, is here to protect consumers. We apply our extensive experience to tackle modern-day consumer issues while maintaining our core values. Each case receives our personalized attention; we hold our work to the highest standards; and we take all cases on a contingency basis, meaning, we never charge our clients.
If you suspect your vehicle may be a lemon, call our team of experienced lawyers today at 415-417-2780 for a consultation.