Pre-Owned Vehicle SignAlthough the car you bought was previously owned, you were disappointed to find that it had a major mechanical defect. You’ve heard of the Lemon Law, which allows a new car buyer to return it if it fails to conform with the warranty and cannot be repaired in a reasonable number of attempts. Does the same option exist for used cars? The answer is yes, but only in very specific circumstances.

Used Cars and the Lemon Law

After taking possession of a used car you have purchased, if you discover a defect or a condition, including those that do not affect the driveability of the vehicle, that significantly impairs its use, market value, or safety, you may have cause for a Lemon Law claim, but only under the following conditions:

  • The vehicle is still under the manufacturer’s original factory warranty

  • The warranty has not been in effect for more than 18 months beginning with the date the warranty was first started

In general, then, the used car you purchased cannot be older than 18 months and the warranty must be valid.

Does the Warranty Transfer When You Buy a Used Car?

Manufacturer’s warranties are linked to a vehicle identification number (VIN), not an owner, so they are transferable with the sale of the vehicle. However, simply knowing the model year of your vehicle is not enough to know when the warranty will expire. For example, a 2016 model year car was likely purchased in 2015 and the warranty is valid from the date of purchase, not the model year. Your best bet is to find out how much time is left on the warranty by running the VIN through a dealership’s service department. Most new cars come with a three-year, 36,000 mile warranty, but the Lemon Law only applies for the first 18 months of a warranty, so that is important information to have before you try to make a Lemon Law claim.

A Used Car Lemon Law Claim Can Be Difficult

If you believe you have a valid Lemon Law claim on your used car, you should follow the same process you would with a claim on a new car. If you run in to problems with the process because you are not the original owner, contact the experienced Lemon Law attorneys at The Consumer Law Group, P.C. We know the law and we can help.


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