What to Do When a Pushy Car Salesman Sells You a Lemon


Do you feel like you were pushed into buying a car, truck, or SUV that has been nothing but a nightmare? Some of your friends may have mentioned that you got a Lemon. Is the dealership responsible? Can you take the car back?

The Lemon Law in California may help, but if that new-to-you car is past its original warranty, you might be left sucking lemons.

What is a Lemon Car in California?

The Lemon Law in California was created to protect buyers of new cars.  If your car is less than four years old or is still protected by its original manufacturer warranty, you may benefit from the Lemon Law. A car is known as a lemon when it has been repeatedly serviced by the dealer for a recurring issue and still has problems. In this case, you may be entitled to have the car replaced with another vehicle of equal value or bought back by the dealership.


What You Need to Know If You are Purchasing a Buy-Back Lemon

If a dealer takes back a lemon car as a result of the enforcement of the Lemon Law, they must treat the car as a Lemon when it is resold. The dealer must tell the buyer why it is labeled as a Lemon and what has been done to rectify the problem. In some cases, the Lemon may be sold “as is,” but if the buyer was not properly informed about the car’s history, the buyer may be able to return the car under the Lemon Law.

Do Used Cars Fall Under the California Lemon Law?

The Lemon Law has become something of a catchphrase when it comes to used cars, but in most cases, it is not applicable. You can only benefit from the Lemon Law if the used car is a Buy-Back Lemon, is less than 4 years old, or is still protected by its original manufacturer warranty. If you bought a 10-year-old car from a dealer or private sale, and are unhappy with the car or the sales service, you may be covered under other consumer protection laws in California.

They Fixed it Twice and It is Still Not Right

So, your brand-new Chevy had a bad air conditioner compressor. The dealer replaced it and six months later the compressor died again. The Lemon Law stipulates that the dealer is allowed a “reasonable” number of attempts to fix the problem before buying back the Lemon. You will need to work with the sales manager to determine if your car is a Lemon, or if they get to try one more time.

Now is when you want to explore legal options if you’re sold a lemon. Is it time to call an attorney or enter arbitration? An attorney may be able to take some of the emotion out of the equation and negotiate a resolution between you and the dealer.

They Said that the Car Ran Like a Dream–They Lied!

Maybe you picked up a three-year old Mustang at an incredibly low price. The guy said that it was well maintained, and you will have a great time cruising around town in it. The car started blowing smoke after a few months. Do you have a case? If the car history says that it was in an accident that you didn’t know about and its engine had been replaced, you might. Most pre-owned rides sold in California are sold as-is, but if a salesperson misrepresented the car, you can be reimbursed for unexpected repairs and associated expenses.

There was Another Buyer, So I had to Buy Now

One of the most common sales tactics at disreputable car lots is the limited time left approach. You called about a particular car and found out that it is still available. You ran down to take a test drive. When you arrive, the dealer tells you that if you want the car, you need to buy now! Another party is on their way and if you hesitate, the car will be gone. When you get the car home, you find out that it is full of maintenance issues and needs major repairs. If you had the time to properly inspect the car, you may have discovered the problems and refused to buy the car.

This is another type of sales practice that can be considered fraudulent because it did not include proper disclosure of the state of the vehicle.

It’s a New Car and the Dealer wants to Use Arbitration

Many manufacturers in California prefer to use a state-certified arbitrator when faced with a Lemon Law issue. A neutral third party is brought into the situation. They will review the repair records for the car and help you and the dealer come to an agreement. In most cases, the arbitration can speed the resolution of your Lemon Law complaint. Learn more about arbitration by contacting the California Department of Consumer Affairs. If you feel like the arbitration is not taking into consideration the entire scope of the problem, you may wish to consider other legal options if you are sold a lemon.

Ultimately, not every car falls under the Lemon Law protections. However, that does not mean that you are out of luck if a dealer took you for a ride. If the dealer has been unwilling to address your issues, bringing in an attorney experienced in Lemon Law cases may help you to finally receive proper compensation.

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