Can I File a Lemon Law Claim after a Private Party Vehicle Purchase?
You might already know that California’s Lemon Law offers protection to buyers of new and certified used vehicles. Often, buyers see a purchase of a new or certified used vehicle as offering greater protection against defects in the vehicle. That said, is it true that you’d be completely without recourse if you purchased a malfunctioning used car through a private sale? Do you still have a right to demand that a manufacturer make repairs or process a buyback of a defective vehicle if that vehicle wasn’t purchased directly from a dealer? Learn more below about whether you may have rights under the California Lemon Law after a private party sale, and contact an experienced California Lemon Law attorney for more information.
Warranty rights after private sales
By default, new and certified used car purchases from authorized dealers come with guarantees that the vehicle will work as expected, along with the right to have the car replaced if persistent mechanical issues can’t be repaired. However, the default when making a purchase from a private seller is that the vehicle is being sold “as-is.” In other words, the seller is making no legally-binding promises about how well the vehicle runs, or whether it will keep running once it drives off the lot, unless they agree to sign a written contract stating as much. When buying through a private sale, buyers are strongly encouraged to have the car inspected by an independent mechanic prior to purchase so that they have some assurance that the car will operate properly.
That said, most warranties transfer from seller to buyer, even when the sale is made privately. In most cases, if you’ve purchased a used car that is still under its original warranty from the manufacturer, you’ll still have the right to seek any repairs or service that is covered under the warranty. If the defect with the vehicle appears to be persistent and resistant to being repaired, then you may wish to explore other legal options, such as a buyback.
In some cases, buyers of used cars are able to purchase a private seller’s rights under the Lemon Law when buying the vehicle. Using a written contract, the seller can assign any right they may have had under the Lemon Law to the private purchaser. If it only becomes apparent after the purchase that a Lemon Law claim will be necessary and the buyer has retained the seller’s contact information, the buyer may be able to have the seller assign their rights under the Lemon Law after the initial sale. Not all attorneys will accept Lemon Law cases where the rights were assigned through a private sale, so be sure to discuss your case with experienced Lemon Law attorneys who offer no-cost consultations when exploring your legal options.