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Used Car Lemon Law Checklist

One lemon law topic that creates a lot of confusion is the used car lemon law. A question asked quite often is “I bought a used car and it’s a lemon. What are my options?

This article will help you determine whether your rights will be protected by used car lemon law or other California consumer protection laws. Read through the questions to find out almost every possible option you may have.

Used Car Lemon Law Protection

Have You Bought a Used Car From a Dealership or From A Private Party?

Dealership

If you bought your used car from a dealership you may have many rights under used car lemon law, Consumer Legal Remedies Act and California Unfair Competition Law. Read the next question to learn more.

Private Sale

If you bought a used car through a private sale, that is, from a private party that is not in the business of selling cars, you are most likely out of luck. In Dagher v. Ford Motor Co. (2015) 238 Cal.App.4th 905, the California Court of Appeal decided that a buyer who bought a used car from a private party was not protected by used car lemon law.

In this 2015 case, Plaintiff had bought a used 2006 Ford from a private party. At the time of purchase the car was still under Ford’s warranty and the warranty was legally transferred to the Plaintiff. The car suffered from repeated breakdowns and the Plaintiff tried to use the used car lemon law to receive a refund from the manufacturer.

California Court of Appeal went through a lengthy discussion of used car lemon law. It concluded that even though the used car was still covered by the manufacturer’s warranty, and the warranty itself was legally transferred to the Plaintiff, the lemon law rights were not transferred together with the warranty.

The Court’s decision was based on the notion that used car lemon law protects consumers that bought their car through a retail sale.  The Court concluded that a private sale does not qualify as a retail sale and the lemon law rights were thus not transferred to the new buyer.

The Court specifically noted that “As a transferee, Plaintiff is still subject to the barrier that he purchased the used vehicle from private parties, even though its written warranty had not yet expired. Such a transfer of a written warranty did not effectively also transfer the original buyers’ right to sue under the Act, because the Act defines standing to obtain the additional protections that it provides in a different manner, by restricting the types of sellers and goods, as well as buyers, that qualify for its protection.” Dagher v. Ford Motor Co. (2015) 238 Cal.App.4th 905

If you bought a used car through a private sale, go to questions no. 5 and 6 to see if you have any rights against the person who sold you the car.

Is Your Used Car Covered by the Manufacturer’s Original Warranty?

Covered by Original Warranty

If at the time of sale your used car was covered by the manufacturer’s original unexpired warranty, be it 3 years and 36,000 miles or 4 years or 50,000 miles, you will be protected by the used car lemon law. Stop reading the guide and call us for a free consultation and case review.

Not Covered by Original Warranty

If at the time of sale your car was not covered by the manufacturer’s original unexpired warranty, read the rest of the questions to see if you can have a claim.

Is Your Used Car Covered by the Manufacturer’s Certified Preowned Warranty?

Covered by Certified Preowned Warranty

If you bought a certified preowned used vehicle from a dealership and it either came with the manufacturer’s Certified Preowned Warranty or the Certified Preowned Warranty was validly transferred to you, then you will most likely be covered by the used car lemon law. Stop reading the guide and call us for a free consultation and case review.

Not Covered by Certified Preowned Warranty

If you bought a used car from the dealership that was not covered by the manufacturer’s certified preowned warranty, you will most likely not have claims under used car lemon law against the manufacturer. You may still have rights under California law against the dealership that sold you the car. Read the rest of the questions to determine your eligibility.

Used Car Lemon Law Claims Against The Dealer

Did The Dealer Provide a Warranty With Your Used Car?

Covered by Dealership Warranty

If the automobile dealership provided a warranty with your used car then you will receive some protection under California law if your vehicle began experiencing problems immediately after the purchase.

California law provides an implied warranty of merchantability with all vehicle purchases, unless the car did not come with any warranty AND was sold As Is. If your used car was covered by the dealership’s warranty, stop reading the guide and call us for a free consultation and case review.

Sold As Is AND Without Warranty

If your used vehicle was sold as is, with disclaimers of implied warranty of merchantability AND no written warranty, you will not have claims under used car lemon law or warranty laws. You may still have claims against the dealership under other laws. Read the next question to see if you have a claim. Your car may be experiencing problems because of its prior history.

Is Your Used Car’s History Clean?

Clean Vehicle History

A used car with a clean vehicle history means that the car was not involved in accidents, was not damaged, was not used as a rental or a taxi and was not stolen at some point in time before being sold to you and has a valid odometer reading.

If you have checked your used car’s history on your own and had your used vehicle inspected at an independent shop and found that the vehicle’s history is clean, you will most likely not have rights against the dealership or the private party because of your car’s poor condition. Read question number 6 to see if you may still have a claim.

Unknown Vehicle History

If you do not know the history of your used vehicle and are experiencing problems with your vehicle, call us to get a free consultation and a free vehicle history check.

Undisclosed History of Accidents, Damage, Taxi or Rental Use, etc.

If you bought a used car and later discovered it was previously involved in an accident, was damaged, was used as a taxi or a rental, or was previously stolen, you will most likely have a claim against the used car dealership or the person who sold you the car. Call us to speak to a dealer fraud attorney and get a free case review.

Was an Important Problem About Your Used Car Hidden From You?

Undisclosed Material Defects

If your used had a material defect that was present at the time of sale that was known to the seller but was not disclosed to you, you may have a claim against the seller. Call us for a free case review and a consultation.

No Undisclosed Material Defects

If your used car did not have any material undisclosed problems at the time of sale and the problems began only after the sale and you do not qualify per all of the above questions, then you will most likely not have a claim against the seller. You should still try to contact several attorneys and have your case reviewed in detail.


Legal matters are subject to various outcomes. Call us at 747-777-2977 to discuss your specific matter. Initial consultations are FREE.