Lemon Vehicles Do Not Have To Be New In San Diego
In a recent case in which we represented a consumer who had purchased a used but low mileage vehicle from an authorized car dealer (not an authorized BMW dealer), the defendant car dealer and manufacturer filed motions for summary judgment before trial. They alleged that California’s lemon law statute did not apply because the vehicle was used, not new, and even if it did apply, they argued that their client was not entitled to relief because he had not prevailed within the 5-day challenge period required by California’s Lemon Law.
California’s Lemon Law Related To This Action Are:
(a) This part shall be known and may be cited as the Song-Beverly Consumer Warranty Act.
(b) The Legislature hereby finds and declares that this part is the complete and exclusive statement of the matters governed by those provisions.
In 1983, California enacted a law that became known as “The Lemon Law.” In 1988, California added a section to its lemon law statute, which stated: “This article shall not apply to any consumer product defined as a motor vehicle used commercially” unless that consumer product was purchased from an authorized dealer for personal or family use. In 1994, California revised its lemon law statute again to clarify that it applied to both new and used.
In 1997, California went a step further and amended its lemon law statute to provide that the lemon law would apply whether the consumer product was purchased from a dealer or a private party. This means that there is no distinction anymore between new and used vehicles in most respects when it comes to filing lemon law claims against manufacturers or dealers of used cars.
The court, in this case, rejected the defendant’s argument that our client could not pursue his claim under California’s lemon law because he bought his vehicle from an authorized BMW reseller, not an authorized BMW dealer. The court ultimately granted our motion for summary judgment and held that California’s lemon law applied because 1) he had purchased a used vehicle from an authorized dealer, 2) his vehicle was less than three years old at the time of trial, and 3) he had already paid more than 30% of its purchase price prior to bringing his claim under California’s lemon law.
This case demonstrates once again that a consumer does not have to buy a new or even a certified pre-owned vehicle in order to qualify for protection under California’s lemon law statute. We can therefore conclude that both new and used vehicles are covered by California’s Lemon Law.
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