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Myths About the California Lemon Law Buyback

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California’s Lemon Law protects auto buyers when they are sold a defective vehicle. Many people do not know precisely how the Lemon Law works, often because dealerships intentionally spread misinformation. Below, we address and resolve several of the more common myths about the California Lemon Law and auto buybacks. If you’ve been sold a lemon or otherwise subjected to auto fraud, call a dedicated California lemon law attorney for help protecting your rights and your safety.

Myth: Used Vehicles Do Not Qualify

In many states, lemon laws cover only new vehicles. Once the vehicle has left the dealership it’s no longer the manufacturer’s responsibility. California’s Lemon Law, however, protects purchasers of used vehicles as well as new vehicles.

Not all used cars are covered, however. Used vehicles are protected by the Lemon Law so long as they are covered by either the manufacturer’s original warranty, a dealer warranty, or any other express warranty. If a vehicle was sold “as is,” for example, then the warranty may no longer apply. Look to your contract and other information about the vehicle to find out if the warranty still applies.

The car must also satisfy the other aspects of the Lemon Law–the vehicle must have a substantial defect, the dealership must have been unable to repair the vehicle after a reasonable number of attempts, etc.–but the fact that the car was used rather than new when purchased does not mean that the Lemon Law does not apply.

Myth: Leased Vehicles Do Not Qualify

California’s Lemon Law protects both buyers and lessees of vehicles. If you purchase or lease a vehicle with a substantial defect while the vehicle is under the manufacturer’s warranty, and the dealership is unable to fix the problem after a reasonable number of repair attempts, you may be entitled to a buyback or replacement. The same rules apply whether it’s a purchase or a lease.

Myth: The 18,000 Mile Limit

This is a common misconception that we hear about all the time. Dealerships would have you believe that the Lemon Law no longer applies once you put 18,000 miles on your vehicle. At that point, they argue, the car is no longer “new” under the law. This is simply false.

The 18,000-mile rule is a misinterpretation of a related law. The law says that a buyer is entitled to a buyback after a reasonable amount of repair attempts have been made. What constitutes a “reasonable” number of repair attempts varies depending upon the nature and severity of the problem. California law states that if a buyer has made several repair attempts within 18,000 miles or 18 months of purchase, there is a presumption that they’ve made a reasonable number of attempts–the rule helps buyers, it doesn’t hurt buyers.

If the car has more than 18,000 miles but is still under the manufacturer’s warranty, the Lemon Law still applies. The buyer will need to prove they’ve made a reasonable number of repair attempts without benefiting from the 18,000-mile presumption in their favor, but it’s still very possible to make a successful Lemon Law claim without the presumption.

Myth: I Won’t Get All of My Money Back

The truth about this myth is a little more nuanced. When you get a Lemon Law buyback, you’ll get your down payment and additional car payments back, as well as insurance payments. You may also be entitled to coverage for incidentals, such as the cost of a rental vehicle while you waited for repairs, towing fees, repair expenses, and even things like registration fees and taxes.

The dealership can, however, reduce the buyback based on the mileage you put on the vehicle before obtaining Lemon Law relief. You will also not be entitled to repayment for any after-market improvements you made to the vehicle. The buyback applies to the vehicle as you bought it, not your additions.

Trusted Advice and Representation From an Experienced California Lemon Law Attorney at Nita Lemon Law Firm

If you are experiencing problems with your vehicle, I would like the opportunity to evaluate your lemon law claim at no charge to you and discuss your legal options. For a free, no-obligation consultation, please call me toll-free at 877-921-5256, submit a free case evaluation on my website at www.nitalemonlaw.com, or email me directly at nick@nitalemonlaw.com. Either way, I will personally evaluate your case and promptly respond to your inquiries. I look forward to hearing from you.

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