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California Lemon Law and the Warranty of Merchantability for Used Cars

Nov 8

In the market for a used car in California? It's important to be aware of the state's lemon law and the warranty of merchantability that applies to all used cars sold within its borders. These consumer protection laws are in place to ensure that buyers are not faced with faulty or defective vehicles and have legal recourse in such situations. 

As a potential buyer, understanding these laws is crucial in making an informed decision and protecting yourself from potential financial losses. In this article, we will delve into the details of California's lemon law and the warranty of merchantability for used cars. We will discuss what these laws entail, how they protect consumers, and what steps you can take if you find yourself in a situation where these laws may apply. 

Whether you are a first-time car buyer or a seasoned veteran, this article will provide you with the necessary knowledge to navigate the used car market in California with confidence and peace of mind. So, let's dive in and learn more about these important regulations.



The California Lemon Law:


The Song-Beverly Consumer Warranty Act, also known as California's Lemon Law, aims to safeguard consumers who purchase or lease both new and pre-owned vehicles that are ultimately found to be faulty.

Although commonly associated with new cars, the Lemon Law in California also covers used cars as long as they satisfy certain requirements.

  • Defects that qualify based on specific standards: In order to qualify for protection under California Lemon Law, a pre-owned vehicle must exhibit significant defects that impact its safety, worth, or functionality. These defects should have manifested themselves within the timeframe of the original manufacturer's warranty.
  • Multiple attempts to fix the same problem: Depending on the severity of the issue, multiple repair attempts must have been made to address the vehicle's defects.
  • The warranty provided by the manufacturer: The used car must have either the original manufacturer's warranty or a certified pre-owned warranty in place.

In the event that the pre-owned vehicle satisfies these conditions and the problems persist even after a reasonable number of repair attempts, the purchaser could potentially be eligible for a refund, replacement, or monetary reimbursement as per the California Lemon Law.


Warranty of Merchantability:


The Warranty of Merchantability serves as an additional safeguard for individuals purchasing pre-owned vehicles in California. It is a warranty that is automatically provided to all buyers of used cars from dealerships in the state, as required by the California Uniform Commercial Code (UCC).

The Warranty of Merchantability requires that a pre-owned vehicle meets specific quality standards, guaranteeing its safety and ability to function as intended.

The Warranty of Merchantability includes the following important provisions:

  • Safe to Drive: The pre-owned vehicle must be in a state that ensures its safe operation on the road.
  • Suitable for the intended use: The vehicle must have the capacity to fulfill the customary duties associated with vehicles similar in nature, such as providing transportation and being suitable for everyday purposes.
  • Without any flaws or imperfections: The vehicle must not have any major flaws that would significantly hinder its functionality, worth, or safety.

The time period for this warranty may fluctuate depending on the specific used car purchase, however, it generally provides coverage for at least 30 days or until the vehicle reaches 1,000 miles, whichever occurs earlier.



Methods for Upholding Your Entitlements:


In the event that you think your second-hand car purchase falls under the protection of either California Lemon Law or the Warranty of Merchantability, and you come across substantial problems with the vehicle, it is advisable to follow these steps:


Record the problems:


Ensure that you maintain thorough documentation of every effort made to repair, all service receipts, and any correspondence exchanged with the dealer or manufacturer.


Inform the seller:


Get in touch with the seller, dealer, or manufacturer and let them know about the problems. Make sure you have provided them with a fair chance to resolve the flaws.


Get legal counsel:


In case the problems continue and your rights under California Lemon Law or the Warranty of Merchantability have been breached, it may be beneficial to consult with a legal professional who can assist you in understanding the procedure and ensuring your rights are upheld.





Finally, the California Lemon Law Attorney and the Warranty of Merchantability for used cars provide consumers with important protections when purchasing a vehicle. By understanding these laws and their rights, consumers can make informed decisions and hold dealers and manufacturers accountable for any defects or misrepresentations. It is always recommended to thoroughly research a used car and ask for a vehicle history report before making a purchase. And if any issues do arise, it is important to seek legal assistance to ensure that your rights are protected. With these laws in place, consumers can have peace of mind when purchasing a used car in California.





1. What remedies can I expect under the California Lemon Law?

If your vehicle qualifies as a lemon, you may be entitled to a replacement vehicle or a refund of the purchase price, including taxes, registration, and other related fees. The manufacturer may also have to cover attorney fees and other costs.


2. Is there a time limit for filing a Lemon Law claim in California?

Yes, there is a statute of limitations. Generally, you have 18 months from the date of delivery to file a Lemon Law claim, but it's advisable to consult with an attorney to ensure you meet all necessary deadlines.


3. Are used cars covered under the California Lemon Law?

Yes, used cars can be covered under the California Lemon Law if they were sold with a written warranty and meet the other eligibility criteria.


4. What should I do if the manufacturer refuses to honor my Lemon Law claim?

If the manufacturer denies your claim, you may need to pursue legal action. Consult with an attorney to discuss your options, which may include taking the case to court.


5. Are there any costs involved in pursuing a Lemon Law claim in California?

The California Lemon Law allows for attorney fees and costs to be recovered from the manufacturer if your claim is successful, so you may not have to pay out-of-pocket for legal representation.

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