San Diego Lemon Law FAQ

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

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

California lemon law does not apply to the sale or purchase of a vehicle between two individual private parties. The law applies only when a vehicle is purchased through a retail seller, like a car dealership. 

The state’s lemon law specifies that, for the law to apply, the vehicle must be purchased from someone whose business is car sales. Buying a car from a neighbor or friend doesn’t apply unless you purchased the vehicle from a neighbor or friend’s car dealership. 

When a dealership sells a car, the dealership provides certain warranties or promises along with that sale. A new car, for example, comes with a manufacturer’s warranty. The warranty promises that the vehicle is fit for its intended uses. It also typically promises that the manufacturer will fix the problem at no additional cost to the buyer if something goes wrong within a certain period. Many dealerships also offer certified pre-owned (CPO) warranties for used cars they sell. 

However, when you buy a vehicle from a private party, that party isn’t required to provide a warranty. Instead, a private party sells a car “as is.” When you buy a vehicle “as is,” you agree to take the car with whatever problems it might have. If something goes wrong, you cannot require the seller to make it right, as you can with a new vehicle bought at retail. 

If you bought a vehicle from a private seller, you might ask the seller to refund your money, cover repairs, or pay for the car. California law, however, does not require the seller to say yes. If the seller agrees to help, they do so independently. A private seller deal is not covered by California’s lemon law.

Before you buy any vehicle from a private party, have a mechanic you trust to examine the vehicle thoroughly. If the seller doesn’t want you to take the car to a mechanic, look for a different seller and a different vehicle. To make sure you are protected by California’s lemon law, be sure to buy a certified pre-owned vehicle. That will provide the best protections.

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