Do Direct and Implied Warranties Apply to Used Cars in California?


While many people understand how California Lemon Laws apply to new vehicles, others may be asking themselves if lemon laws apply to used cars.

The California Lemon Law Statute, also called the Song-Beverly Consumer Act covers leased and purchased vehicles. However, the automobile must still be under the original service warranty.

Any used vehicle leased or bought from California within three years of its manufacturer date or less than 36,000 miles should still certify under the original service warranty. There might be other factors at play that might account for an extended service warranty. If the vehicle is under the manufacturer’s service warranty, you are protected by the law.

If you’re unsure if you got a dealership warranty, you can check the Buyer’s Guide. Federal law requires that all pre-owned automobiles for sale display a Buyer’s Guide on the window.

There are two boxes on the Buyer’s Guide, one identified “As-Is” and the other Labeled as Warranty. The “As-Is” choice means there is no service warranty while the Warranty box shows a service warranty. As long as there is a check in the Warranty box, the lemon law protects you. However, you’ll wish to ask the dealership about the terms of the service warranty.

The problem is that many used automobiles are no longer under warranty. Fortunately, in California, used vehicles with a dealer’s guarantee also qualify under California’s used car lemon laws. Dealer service warranties differ based on the car dealership that offers them. They can be relatively short and last between 30 days and three months. However, some dealers do use more extended guarantees.

A “Service Warranty” doesn’t Guarantee Lemon Law Protection

It’s crucial to comprehend that not any guarantee will offer you protections under California Lemon Law. Your specific warranty must be the original carmaker’s guarantee or the dealer’s warranty. Numerous people purchase additional “extended service warranties.” It’s essential to realize that these aren’t many valid guarantees as they are “service agreements” only.

An extended guarantee isn’t a promise from the dealer or manufacturer that the automobile is in good condition. These are third party guarantees to repair your car should it break down. These types of “warranties” don’t apply under the California Lemon Law. This is why it’s crucial to talk to the dealer about which kind of service warranty covers you before purchase. But, if a service guarantee requires you to take your vehicle back to the dealer for repairs, there is the possibility that the law will apply in your case. In this case, it would be prudent to seek advice from an attorney specializing in lemon laws.

How Do Lemon Laws Apply to Used Cars Under Dealership Warranty?

If you bought a used car with a dealership guarantee, then you’re protected for parts covered under warranty and through an “implied warranty of merchantability.” This implies that the service warranty is not limited to just the particular parts and elements covered by the dealer’s warranty. This extension covers the whole car with a basic contract.

The Bottom Line

This may all seem confusing, but fortunately, there is help. Seeking legal advice is a good idea if you have any doubts about whether California’s lemon laws apply to you. Keep in mind that before you can file a lemon law claim, you will have to make reasonable attempts to fix your car through the dealership or manufacturer. Hopefully, they can resolve your problem without the need to seek legal representation. But if this fails, then legal representation may be a good idea.

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