Dealer's Warranties- Protect Your Lemon Law Rights

Used car dealers typically sell cars on which the manufacturer’s warranty has expired. Consumers often assume that used cars do not qualify for the California Lemon Law. However, sometimes the dealer will issue a separate “dealer’s warranty” – usually good for 30 days. The short term of the warranty gives you as the buyer a very narrow time frame to do anything about a problem car. However, you still have some rights.

The first and most important rule is know what you’re buying. But let’s say despite all of your diligence, the car starts to sputter when you try to accelerate up to freeways speeds or you discover some other serious defect two days after you buy it. It is very important to present the vehicle for repairs and make a record of it within the 30-day period and if the problem isn’t handled to go back.

Ideally, you’ll present the car, they’ll do the work and give you a repair order documenting when you brought it to them. But what do you do if the dealer says, sorry we’re busy, bring it in next week (after the warranty is up)? Or, they claim it is a normal characteristic of the vehicle and refuse to repair it or give you a document?

It is vital to any case you may want to present to have evidence of presenting it for repair within the warranty period. If polite persistence doesn’t get you a repair order, you can write a letter to the dealer stating the date and time you brought the car in for service, whom you spoke to, the defects with the car that you wanted to fix and the exact response. You can have someone go with you who can provide corroboration that you went there. You should save things such as voice mails and e-mails from the dealership that indicate they knew of the problem within the warranty period.

If you have a used car that can’t be fixed don’t assume you have no rights under the lemon law just because it is used. A qualified lemon law attorney may be able to help you get a refund or replacement. The job is made easier if you’ve got a paper trail.

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