Used Vehicles 2018-01-09T07:52:53-08:00

Do Consumers That Purchase Used Vehicles Receive Coverage Under California’s Lemon Law?

Yes, consumers that have purchased a used vehicle qualify for protection under the California Lemon Law. California’s Lemon Law is a provision that is contained under the Song-Beverly Consumer Warranty Act, a more general section of California’s laws. This act provides protection to consumers of any product, not just vehicles that were purchased within the state of California with an express written warranty. Where the exact wording of the California Lemon Law may lead consumers to believe that only new vehicles are afforded protection, consumers can be assured that as long as their used vehicle was purchased with an express written warranty, they will receive coverage under the law. Consumers should note, however, that monetary compensation provided for under the lemon law is significantly different for used vehicles than when compared with new vehicles.

Under the California Lemon Law, consumers of new motor vehicles that display material defects covered under an express written warranty can petition the proper legal authority to receive financial compensation or a replacement vehicle. The precise wording of the lemon law defines a new motor vehicle as a new vehicle bought for or used primarily for personal, family or household purposes. In addition to vehicles used for personal reasons, some vehicles that are used primarily for business may also be covered under this section of the law. Dealer-owed vehicles, demonstrator vehicles, portions of motor homes and all other vehicles sold with an express written warranty are also included within California’s Lemon Law. This wording of the law has lead consumers to understand that only new vehicles are covered under the lemon law, when in fact consumers of used vehicles also receive protection.

When petitioning a court for assistance under the California Lemon Law, consumers are asking the legal authority to enforce a manufacturer’s express written warranty. At the time a vehicle is purchased, an express written warranty provided by the manufacturer will outline specific vehicle components, performance and structure that the manufacturer guarantees are free from defects. Should an issue arise with a component or the vehicle’s performance or structure, the manufacturer is bound by their warranty to address the defect and compensate the consumer. When a conflict results between consumer and manufacturer, a lemon law claim is filed so the proper legal authority can address the matter. Should a consumer of a new or used vehicle fail to obtain an express written warranty at the time of their purchase, they will have no valid claim under the law.

Relief provided under California’s Lemon Law was designed to return the consumer to the position they were in before they purchased the defective motor vehicle. Coverage details are extensive and consumers should be aware that coverage for a new motor vehicle is substantially different from coverage for a used motor vehicle. Generally, consumers of new vehicles are entitled to either a refund of the purchase price of the vehicle or a new vehicle to replace the defective vehicle. These consumers are subject to a discount in financial compensation for the mileage or consumer’s use of the vehicle before it began exhibiting problems. These definitive rules for new motor vehicles may not apply to used vehicles because there is no set formula for determining the value of consumer use for a used vehicle.