Lemon Law for Used Cars

A used car can qualify under the federal lemon laws for used cars as long as it was sold with a written warranty. Very often, used cars are sold while still under the manufacturer's warranty and/or a warranty from the dealer. If this is the case, then your used car may qualify under the federal lemon laws. Just enter your ZIP code below if you need legal help.

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Jeffrey Johnson is a legal writer with a focus on personal injury. He has worked on personal injury and sovereign immunity litigation in addition to experience in family, estate, and criminal law. He earned a J.D. from the University of Baltimore and has worked in legal offices and non-profits in Maryland, Texas, and North Carolina. He has also earned an MFA in screenwriting from Chapman Univer...

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UPDATED: Feb 7, 2021

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Lemon law for used cars will likely cover used cars if the car was covered under a certain type of warranty. Despite the fact that used cars are much more likely candidates to be “lemons,” federal lemon laws generally cover only new vehicle purchases. But there is one major exception: if the owner has received an express written warranty along with the used vehicle, then federal lemon laws will likely cover used cars.

An express written warranty can include the balance of a manufacturer’s warranty, a separate limited warranty given by the dealer, or an extended warranty or service contract acquired from the dealer at the time of purchase. Some used vehicles are certified by the dealer, which extends the existing warranty or creates an additional short warranty on the used vehicle. Having such a warranty will not only offer the potential for a breach of warranty claim, but federal lemon laws can also apply to those situations.

Read on to learn more about how does a used car qualify for lemon law and what to do when you buy a used car that is a lemon vehicle. If you need further legal assistance, just enter your ZIP code below.

Is there protection for consumers with used car lemon laws?

The frequency and severity of consumer problems with used cars have led some state legislatures to pass new laws giving relief to used car purchasers. These state lemon laws may provide for a statutory used car warranty, often based upon the age or mileage of the car. If the car exhibits problems during the warranty period, the dealer is given a chance to repair them. If after several attempts (usually three) the fixes are unsuccessful, the dealer must then either replace the car or refund the purchase price to the buyer.

Other states have enacted statutory rights specifically for used car buyers. These laws either require warranties from all sellers or set minimum standards and inspection requirements prior to the sale of any used car.

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Is there remedy under state consumer protection laws?

In addition, some states have consumer protection statutes that prohibit deceptive acts in the sale of used cars. These laws generally require that a car dealer answer all of the buyer’s questions honestly. To the extent that a consumer purchases a used vehicle as a result of a false representation, he or she may have a claim against the dealership. Additionally, some states require that dealerships disclose certain facts about used cars, even if the consumer doesn’t ask, such as whether it was ever a rental, was salvaged, or was previously used as a demonstrator. Despite this, however, only some states require a dealer who has failed to disclose such facts to provide a replacement vehicle or refund for the car.

What are the lemon law warranty requirements?

Regarding auto dealers, their obligations by law are to give you a written warranty that covers the following parts:

  • Engine (lubricated parts, water pump, fuel pump, manifolds, engine block, cylinder head, rotary engine housings, and a flywheel)
  • Transmission (the transmission case, internal parts, and the torque converter)
  • Drive Axle (the front and rear axle housings and internal parts, axle shafts, propeller shafts, and universal joints)
  • Brakes (master cylinder, vacuum assist booster, wheel cylinders, hydraulic lines and fittings, and disc brake calipers)
  • Steering (the steering gear housing and all internal parts, power steering pump, valve body, piston, and rack)
  • Other Parts: Radiator, Alternator, Generator, Starter, and Ignition System (excluding battery)

Clearly, doing your homework before purchasing a used car is a must. While no one can be absolutely certain that they’ll always get what they paid for, there are steps all consumers should take to make sure they aren’t being “taken” by an unscrupulous salesperson. Additionally, check your state’s lemon laws to see what legal protections are available in the worst-case scenario.

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