While the internet often causes more problems than it solves, it has been an excellent resource for people who are interested in purchasing a vehicle. Consumers now have an excellent way to research car dealerships and discover which ones might be less than honest, and they can read up on the quality of the cars themselves.

But, as useful as the internet is when it comes to reviews, it can’t tell someone if the vehicle they’re looking at is a lemon. Yes, it can tell them if the particular model has problems, but not if the actual car, truck, or SUV that they’re buying actually has problems. As a result, many consumers will put their trust in the dealerships and opt to purchase a certified pre-owned car.

Is buying a certified pre-owned vehicle, also sometimes referred to as a certified used vehicle, a guarantee that you won’t get a lemon? That’s what we’re here to discuss in today’s article.


A Certified Pre-Owned vehicle is a used vehicle that the dealer has inspected, made adjustments or repairs and obtained the manufacturer’s permission to “certify” that the vehicle meets certain standards. The items inspected and the standard a vehicle has to meet to become certified varies from manufacturer to manufacturer.


There are two primary reasons that manufacturers will certify vehicle. First of all, the certification instills trust in customers, which makes the vehicle easier to sell. Second, because of the increased trust, dealerships can charge a premium over a vehicle that is not certified.


California law has your back when it comes to which vehicles can and can’t be certified. The California Vehicle Code outlines 9 circumstances where a vehicle cannot be certified:

  • The vehicle has been part of a lemon law buyback.
  • The vehicle was purchased as a salvaged, junked, flooded, or non-repairable vehicle.
  • The vehicle has frame damage, usually due to being in a wreck.
  • The vehicle was sold “as-is.”
  • The vehicle’s odometer doesn’t show the actual mileage or has been tampered with in some way.
  • The dealer does not provide the consumer with a completed inspection report that identifies the results of the inspection.
  • The odometer was missed with (called “rolled back”) to show a lesser number of miles than the vehicle actually has.
  • The vehicle sustained damage in an impact, fire or flood and after repair, it still substantially impairs use or safety.
  • The dealer disclaims warranties on merchantability


The extra trust a typical buyer has in a certified vehicle is often justified. Certified used vehicles are almost always new enough to be covered by the manufacturer’s original warranty. Warranties vary from manufacturer to manufacturer, of course, but certified vehicles are usually under seven years old and have fewer than 80,000 miles.

But just because the vehicle has had an inspection performed doesn’t mean that you won’t have problems with it. In fact, warrantied cars can indeed be lemons that require the help of a Los Angeles lemon law attorney.

How can this be? Here are some of the reasons:

  • The manufacturer’s “standards” for certification are usually just visual inspections. So, if a car has a chronic oil leak but is not leaking at the time of the inspection, it might pass the inspection.
  • Maybe the vehicle was part of a lemon law lawsuit, but the consumer settled for cash instead of a buyback and then traded the car in.
  • Maybe a customer was experiencing repeat problems but decided to trade the vehicle in without going through the lemon law process.
  • Sometimes problems may be developing but not showing themselves before a car is traded in


If you’ve had problems with your vehicle that started during the manufacturer’s warranty and the dealership just can’t seem to fix it, you may have a lemon. The best way to find out if you have a case is to contact a Los Angeles lemon law lawyer. They can guide you through the legal process, which is the convoluted part that makes many people just give up. Working with a lemon law attorney is free because the lemon law says that attorney fees are paid by manufacturers and is not taken from any award you might be entitled to.

The consultation with us is free, and we’d love to hear from you. Contact The Law Offices of Sotera L. Anderson, your lemon law lawyer in Los Angeles, today! She also accepts lemon law cases throughout the State of California.