Riverside Lemon Law FAQ

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

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

California lemon law only applies to retail purchases of vehicles – not to purchases made from a private vehicle owner. 

California’s lemon law seeks to hold auto manufacturers and distributors liable for putting defective or dangerous vehicles on the market. To achieve this goal, the law focuses on entities whose business is car sales. 

Many vehicles in California are bought and sold between private parties. You’re engaging in a private party sale when you buy a car from a friend, neighbor, or co-worker. California lemon law does not apply to these sales. 

If your friend, neighbor, or co-worker runs an auto dealership, lemon law may apply if you buy the car through their dealership. In this case, you’re not buying the vehicle from your acquaintance as a private individual. Instead, you are purchasing the car from their business, which exists to sell cars. California lemon law does apply to companies that sell vehicles. 

Promises and warranties typically accompany dealership sales of cars. New vehicles come with a manufacturer’s warranty promising the vehicle is fit for everyday use. These warranties usually have provisions for problems or defects within a certain period. The warranty may cover repairs if anything malfunctions or breaks within that period. Some limits may apply. For instance, many warranties require work by an official dealership. 

Warranties may come with used vehicles as well. For example, used cars sold through dealerships may come with a certified pre-owned (CPO) warranty. California’s lemon law applies if an original manufacturer’s or CPO warranty is still in effect. 

Private parties, by contrast, sell vehicles “as is.” When you buy a car, EV, SUV, truck, or motorcycle “as is,” you agree to take it in its current condition – even if that means it has problems neither you nor the seller know about. For this reason, it’s wise to take a car to a mechanic for inspection before purchasing it. To get the maximum protection under California’s lemon law, you should consider buying a certified pre-owned vehicle.

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