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The California Used Vehicle Lemon Law

In California, there is legal protection for anyone that purchases or leases a used car, or any other used vehicle that is still covered by a manufacturer's original factory warranty.

The following are covered by the Used Car Lemon Law:

  • Any vehicle that has been certified and given an extended warranty (or service contract) that increases the length of the manufacturer’s original warranty and,
  • Vehicles previously repurchased under the lemon law and resold with a manufacturer’s warranty,
  • Demonstrator (demo) Vehicles

Your Used Vehicle Might Be A Lemon

Pursuant to the California Used Car Lemon Law, if the problems with the vehicle are within the warranty period, then your used car might be a lemon if the manufacturer has had a reasonable number of attempts to repair the defect or nonconformities but has been unsuccessful.

In addition, if your vehicle is in the shop too long for warranty repairs, or too many times, then your used car might be a lemon.

In California You Have The Same Rights With A Certified Pre-owned Vehicle As A New Vehicle

In order to make purchasing a used vehicle more popular, many dealerships will certify their used vehicles by extending the original factory warranty an additional year. The buyer of a Certified Pre-Owned vehicle is usually given the opportunity to extend that manufacturer’s warranty even longer. This extended warranty not only protects the buyer from being stuck with a lemon similar to a new vehicle warranty, but quite often extended warranty combined with original factory warranty can offer longer protection than you could get from buying a new vehicle.

Car dealers are prohibited from advertising a used vehicle as "certified" if:

  • The odometer does not indicate the actual mileage of the vehicle
  • The vehicle was a voluntary lemon buyback
  • The title was branded as a lemon buyback, manufacturer repurchase, salvage, junk, non-repairable, flood, or similar designation
  • The vehicle was damaged by accident, fire, or flood, unless it has been repaired to safe operational condition
  • The vehicle has frame damage or was sold "as is"
  • The seller failed to provide the buyer with a complete inspection report of all components inspected

What Are You Entitled To If Your Vehicle Is A Lemon?

If a used or certified pre-owned vehicle is a lemon, the law provides several options for a successful Lemon Law claimant. First, you may be awarded a replacement vehicle of the same year, make, and model OR you may qualify for a refund which is a monetary award. The monetary award can include:

  • The full contract price
  • Sales tax or license tax
  • Registration fees
  • Finance charges paid on your loan
  • Incidental costs such as repair expenses, tow fees, car rental fees and
  • Attorney fees.

On most instances, you are free to choose whether to accept a refund or replacement vehicle.

Cars Covered By California Used Car Lemon Law Include:

1. Used cars or vehicles bought and used primarily for personal, family or household purposes.

2. Used cars or vehicles with a gross weight that is below 10,000 pounds and used primarily for business purposes where 5 or fewer vehicles are registered to the company.

3. Used cars or vehicles that are sold with a written warranty.

4. Lemon cars or vehicles that are repurchased by a manufacturer and then resold to consumers with a manufacturer’s warranty covering the defects.