San Bernardino Lemon Law FAQ

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

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

California lemon law covers vehicles purchased or leased through a dealership. It does not cover sales of a car between two private parties. 

When a southern California resident buys or leases a car from a dealership, they receive more than just the vehicle itself. They also receive warranties along with the vehicle. 

A new vehicle, for example, typically comes with an original manufacturer’s warranty. A certified pre-owned vehicle often comes with a certified pre-owned (CPO) warranty. Both types of warranty promise that the car is fit for its intended uses and reasonably safe to drive. The warranties also cover repairs if something goes wrong, as long as the vehicle’s owner follows the instructions given in the warranty. For instance, the warranty may cover repairs only if the driver brings the car to the dealership for service. 

The warranty holds the manufacturer responsible for vehicle defects. As long as the warranty is in place, California lemon law may apply if the manufacturer can’t fix a vehicle defect after a reasonable number of attempts. 

A vehicle purchased from a private seller does not come with a warranty. When a private party sells their truck or car, they sell it “as is,” meaning that the buyer agrees to take the vehicle along with whatever problems it may have – even if the seller and buyer couldn’t have spotted those problems at the time of sale. 

If you bought a vehicle in a private party sale and something goes wrong, you may contact the seller and ask them to cover the cost of repairs or to give you a refund. However, the seller is not required to say yes to your requests. If the seller agrees to help you, they do so voluntarily. 

The best way to protect yourself from hidden defects is to take a vehicle to a mechanic you trust. Have the mechanic examine the car thoroughly before you buy it. If a private seller doesn’t want you to take the vehicle to a mechanic, look for another seller and another car. It may be most wise to simply purchase a certified used vehicle, which is covered by the California lemon laws.

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