Buying a used car is often the best option for many people on the search for a car. Not only do you get a used car for much cheaper than the price of a new car, but used there are also more options available for used cars, rather than new cars. The problem is that many people buy a used car “as is,” without realizing the consequences. A used car, as is, means that it comes with no warranty, or in other words, no promise to take care of problems or defects that arise. In some cases, used cars that are sold by dealers, especially certified pre-owned cars, come with warranties.
The Problems with Used Cars
The downside to buying a used car is that they are much more likely to be defective, have problems, and need costly repairs. In a lot of cases, the money saved on purchasing used ends up going towards repairs on the car. Warranties that come with used cars often cover only certain issues, specifically engine and transmission problems. Also, these warranties usually last for a very short amount of time, typically a few months or a few thousand miles.
If a used car ends up having an issue that is covered by their warranty, it is important to take the car immediately to the dealer and request an inspection and repair of the problem. Most times, the dealer will make the repairs, so long as the warranty is still in place and the problem is covered by it. However, sometimes the dealer will refuse to fix the root of the problem because it could be an expensive repair. Problems that are located in the “drivetrain” of the car can be expensive because these expensive parts sometimes need to be replaced.
Do I Have a Claim?
Purchasers of used lemons could have a claim in two situations. A common situation is when the owner brings the car in numerous times, with the same problem, under the warranty, and the problem does not get repaired. Another situation that can occur is when the car needs an expensive replacement or repair and the dealer refuses to do it because it is too expensive. If one of these two things happens under the warranty, the owner may have a case against the dealer. In these situations, the seller or dealer was given the opportunity to repair the car under the warranty, and did not, and that is the key to the case for breach of warranty.
In the state of California, dealers that sell used cars must offer the purchaser a 30-day or 1,000 mile warranty to cover the essential components of the car, at a minimum. California lemon law covers these cars that are under warranty, and it is even better if the car is certified pre-owned. The lemon law definitely applies to cars that were bought from a dealer, and not from an individual, have an active warranty, have a substantial defect, and the dealer attempted to repair it or it spent significant time in the shop being repaired.
Luckily, California lemon law also protects cars that were bought for personal use that have faulty manufacturing. Commercial vehicles are also covered by this protection, so long as the vehicle is less than 10,000 pounds and the business has five or less vehicles registered under the business name. The law covers vehicles that classify as cars, SUVs, trailers, RVs, trucks, and watercraft vehicles.
Under the lemon laws, the manufacturer must be given a reasonable number of attempts to repair, replace, or repurchase the vehicle. The reasonableness of the attempts can depend on the time of defect the car has. If the defect affects the safety of the vehicle, the manufacturer has only one or two attempts at fixing the car. If the defect is a recurring defect that does not affect the safety of the car, the manufacturer could have three to four attempts to fix the problem before it is considered unreasonable. In some cases, the simple fact that the car has been out of commission for 30 days or more could make the repair attempt unreasonable for purposes of the lemon laws.
One important thing to do when you believe that you may have a used lemon is to keep all records of repairs or attempted repairs. Document what was done to the car, what issues it has, etc. Second, you should contact an attorney to find out what your options are under California law. If you believe your car is a lemon, contact our office today to find out more about the laws and what your options are.