Orange County Lemon Law FAQ

Does the California Lemon Law Apply to Private Party Sales in Orange County?

Does the California Lemon Law Apply to Private Party Sales in Orange County?

California lemon law applies only to sold or leased vehicles from a dealership. It does not apply to private party sales between a friend, a family member, or a stranger from a Craigslist listing or Facebook Marketplace listing. 

In a retail sale, the buyer purchases or leases the vehicle from the automaker. Many Orange County buyers can purchase a vehicle by visiting a dealership or placing an online manufacturer or distributor order for a custom vehicle. In a private sale, a buyer purchases a vehicle from a previous owner, such as a family member, colleague, or a person they contacted through an online site or app. 

For California lemon law to apply:

  • The vehicle must be purchased or leased from a manufacturer or dealership at retail; and
  • An original manufacturer’s warranty or certified pre-owned (CPO) warranty must be in effect. There needs to be more than an extended service warranty. 

In addition to these requirements, the vehicle must meet other standards regarding repair attempts for the lemon law to apply. Defects must appear during normal, expected use of the car. 

Lemon law restricts its focus to retail sales so that manufacturers or distributors can be held responsible for selling vehicles with dangerous defects. When a car is passed down through a private sale, manufacturers bear no responsibility over potential repairs that may be made on the car. 

In a private sale, a vehicle is typically sold “as is.” No warranties or promises are made about the vehicle. The best way to protect yourself in a private sale is to take the vehicle to a trustworthy mechanic for an inspection. If the seller refuses to let a mechanic check the vehicle, you may want to look elsewhere for another car. 

California lemon law will not apply to private party car purchases. However, Orange County buyers who buy a defective vehicle from a non-private seller may be able to get a buyback, depending if the car is still under the manufacturer’s warranty. Speak to an experienced car defect lawyer in Orange County to learn more about how the law applies to your situation. Contact us today by calling (858) 259-5009.

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