Recently, I was contacted by a local single mom with several children, including her own biological children and several foster kids with special needs. She purchased a used car, specifically, a used van, to transport the children to and from their many schools, activities, and medical appointments. Within the first week of owning the van, a whole host of problems arose, including engine problems and seatbelt issues. This put not only the children at risk, but also her financial situation.

Was her used car a lemon?

Based on the purchase agreement and warranty, I determined that her used car qualified for a lemon claim. I was able to work with the car dealer to take back the vehicle and give her a full refund so that she could purchase a more reliable van for her family.

I hear from many car owners like this one who have issues with their vehicle but aren’t sure if the California Lemon Law applies to used cars.

The California Lemon Law on used cars

Here is what the California Lemon Law (Civ. Code, § 1793.22) states, in part, as it relates to used vehicles:

  • The Lemon Law applies to most vehicles purchased or leased in California that are still under a manufacturer’s new car warranty. Members of the Armed Forces, who are stationed in or are residents of California, are protected by the Lemon Law even if their vehicles were purchased or registered outside of California.
  • The Lemon Law also applies to used vehicles when they are still under a manufacturer’s new car warranty. Any remaining time left on the warranty protects the car’s new owner.

NOTE: If you purchased your vehicle used with no warranty, the California Lemon Law does not apply. It only applies to disputes involving the manufacturer’s new vehicle warranty or a warranty given by a dealer.

If you think your used car is a lemon

The California Lemon Law was designed to protect consumers when their vehicle is defective and cannot be repaired after a “reasonable” number of attempts, the law states. The State of California outlines specific guidelines for determining if a vehicle qualifies as a lemon. These guidelines include:

  • You purchased or leased the vehicle from a dealer here in California.
  • The manufacturer or dealer hasn’t fixed the same problem after several attempts.
  • The problem is a substantial impairment to the use, value or safety of the vehicle.

Car owners must meet these criteria before they are entitled to a refund.

What are the lemon settlement options?

If the manufacturer or dealer can’t repair a serious warranty defect in your vehicle after a “reasonable” number of attempts, the manufacturer must either:

  • Replace the vehicle, or
  • Refund its purchase price

Making a lemon claim

While the California Lemon Law might seem relatively simple, making a lemon claim isn’t always easy. Many car owners are overwhelmed by the process, legal language, understanding their options, and dealing directly with manufacturers and dealers. An experienced Lemon Law attorney knows how to work with the car dealer and auto manufacturers to secure the best settlement for the car owner.

Think you have a claim? Get a free, no-obligation case evaluation from the Lemon Law Boss Lady herself Sotera L. Anderson, California Lemon Law Attorney, here or call  1-855-96-LEMON, or (858) 247-0050.