Lemon Laws: Do They Apply to Private Vehicle Sales?

When it comes to buying a car, many people consider purchasing a used vehicle from either a dealership or a private seller. While the California Lemon Law does cover certain defects in used vehicles, it’s important to note that not all used vehicles are protected. To qualify for a lemon law claim, your vehicle needs to meet specific criteria. Let’s delve into the details.

Does the California Lemon Law Protect Private Vehicle Sales?

No, the California Lemon Law does not extend to vehicles purchased from private sellers. If you decide to buy a vehicle from a private seller, you need to exercise caution. The law only safeguards vehicles that are bought from authorized dealerships, provided they come with warranties issued by the auto manufacturers.

A private seller is not held to the same legal obligations as an auto manufacturer or a dealership. Unlike them, a private seller is not responsible for vehicle production, acquiring parts, or installing parts.

Understanding Warranties in Private Vehicle Sales

When it comes to warranties, private sellers are under no obligation to offer them. However, if the private seller initially purchased the vehicle with a manufacturer-backed warranty that is still active at the time of sale, it is possible to transfer the warranty.

It’s important to note that not all warranties are transferable. The terms of the warranty issued for the car need to be carefully examined. Manufacturer-issued warranties for new or Certified Pre-owned vehicles are usually transferrable because they are associated with the vehicle’s VIN, resulting in an automatic transfer of the warranty.

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However, it’s crucial to understand that even if the private sale includes a warranty, it does not mean that the lemon law applies. It simply means that you can seek repairs from the manufacturer under that specific warranty.

“As Is” Sales in Private Car Transactions

An “as is” vehicle sale refers to a transaction in which the seller disclaims all implied warranties related to the vehicle. A vehicle being sold with an express warranty (a written warranty) cannot be sold “as is.”

A private seller is not obligated to offer any warranty for the vehicle. Additionally, many private vehicle sales occur after the initial warranties have expired. In such cases, private party vehicle sales are generally considered “as is” or “with all faults.”

This also means that if you attempt to request a refund from a private seller, they are not obligated to provide a reimbursement.

California Buyers’ Rights in Private Vehicle Sales

The Car Buyer’s Bill of Rights imposes certain obligations on authorized dealerships in California. These include providing warranty lists, insurance information, and other financial details, as well as disclosing the buyer’s credit score. It also sets limits on auto financing fees when the dealer arranges financing on your behalf. Additionally, the Bill of Rights mandates specific criteria for vehicles marked as “Certified Pre-Owned” by dealerships.

However, it’s important to note that these rights do not apply to private sellers. When purchasing a vehicle from a private seller, you assume all the associated risks.

If you reside in California and have purchased or leased a defective vehicle from a licensed dealership, Lemon Law Help by Knight Law Group may be able to assist you in resolving the issue and potentially obtaining significant cash compensation. Please note that the assistance is limited to vehicle models from 2016 to the present. If you reside outside of California or purchased your vehicle elsewhere, we are unable to provide assistance, unless you are an active duty member of the Armed Forces. For more information about the California Lemon Law and your legal rights, visit our California Lemon Law Guide

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