You purchased a new car, or maybe a used car, from a car dealer that came with warranty protection. What exactly does that mean and how does it come into play if your car is a lemon?

There are several types of warranties that come with new cars – implied warranties and express warranties.  Let’s talk about both briefly.

What is the implied warranty?

The most common type of implied warranty that we talk about in lemon law land is called the implied warranty of merchantability.  California’s Lemon Law (Cal. Civ. Code, section 1791.1(a).) says that vehicles must be merchantable.  In other words, the vehicle must:

  • Pass without objection in the trade
  • Be fit for the ordinary purposes for which such goods are used.
  • Be adequately contained, packaged, and labeled.
  • Conform to the promises made.

However, you must have purchased the vehicle at retail in the State of California. (Cal. Civ. Code, section 1792.)  This means if you buy or lease your vehicle from a private seller, there is no implied warranty of merchantability.  Or, if you purchase or lease your vehicle from a dealer in another state, there is no implied warranty of merchantability.

For new vehicles, the implied warranty lasts for no more than one year from the day you purchase your vehicle. (Cal. Civ. Code, section 1791.1(c).) For used vehicles, the implied warranty lasts for no more than 90 days from the day you purchase your vehicle.

What about an Express Warranty?

An express warranty is a written statement from the vehicle’s manufacturer or dealer, provided when you purchase a vehicle, that promises to preserve or maintain the utility or performance of the vehicle and that if they cannot do so they will provide you with compensation. (Cal. Civ. Code, section 1791.2.)

The manufacturer promises to repair your vehicle at no cost to you during a limited time period. An example of an express warranty is the factory warranty that comes with your vehicle when you purchase it from a dealer, such as a bumper-to-bumper warranty, powertrain warranty, safety/restraint warranty or emissions warranty.

What is the manufacturer required to do under a factory warranty?

When a manufacturer gives you a warranty, the manufacturer must:

  • Have facilities reasonably close by to repair your vehicle and the manufacturer must provide the repair facility with sufficient literature and parts so they can properly repair your vehicle during the warranty period. (Cal. Civ. Code, section 1793.2(a)(1) and (3).)
  • Ensure that the repair facilities start repairs on your vehicle within a reasonable time and that the repairs are complete within 30 days (unless you agree in writing to a longer period of time). (Cal. Civ. Code, section 1793.2(b).)
  • Honor the warranty. The repair facility must repair your vehicle at no cost to you (check out your warranty for exclusions/exceptions/terms/conditions).

If your issue is still unresolved under warranty, it may be time to consult a California Lemon Law attorney to understand your rights and your options.


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