Skip to Content Top

Signs a Used Car is a Lemon

woman in front of broken down car

When shopping for a car, you may come across what is sometimes called a “lemon.” Broadly speaking, a lemon is any vehicle with serious defects that pop up shortly after you purchase it and persist throughout the car’s lifetime. Ending up with a lemon is one of the most frustrating experiences you can go through as a car buyer, or any kind of consumer, for that matter.

What many people don’t know, however, is that if you have recently purchased a lemon, you may be entitled to pursue legal ramifications. Keep reading to learn more about signs a used car is a lemon, and if you believe you have ended up with a defective automobile the next time you purchase a car, make sure to contact our experienced attorneys at O’Connor Law Group, P.C. today.

How Common Is it to Get a Lemon?

As we’ve established above, a “lemon” is a term to refer to a car that is of inferior quality or in need of frequent repairs. Sounds easy enough to avoid, right? The trouble is that with most lemons, the owner is unaware of the condition upon purchasing the vehicle.

Sadly, this happens a lot more than you might expect. The used car market has seen an uptick in recent years, and as Consumer Reports points out, if your car deal looks too good to be true, it probably is. Yet this issue is about far more than what you paid for your car and how that car runs.

In addition to being an expensive mistake, lemons also cause a myriad of safety problems. Knowing what a lemon is and understanding the common warning signs can help consumers avoid finding themselves in these precarious situations when purchasing a used car.

Top Signs Your Car May Be a Lemon

Early warning signs you’ve got a lemon on your hands include an unclear vehicle history/lack of documents related to the car, an inexplicably low sale price, or visible signs of damage on the vehicle. Legally, however, the definition of a lemon may vary depending on where you are in the country. In California, for instance, a car can be presumed to be a lemon if within 18 months of the vehicle's delivery to the buyer (or 18,000 miles on the odometer) you run into the following problems:

  • Two or more attempts have been made by the manufacturer to repair a warranty issue that could result in serious injury or death.
  • The manufacturer has attempted to repair the vehicle up to four times without success.
  • The car has been out of service for more than a total of 30 days due to warranty problem repairs.

It should be noted that the aforementioned signs do not apply if the car has experienced damage as a result of the owner. It is also important to be able to show that the issues with the vehicle can significantly reduce its usability, value, or safety.

The California Lemon Law applies to all used vehicles, assuming repair visits occurred within the original or extended warranty period. Drivers should be mindful, however, that automobile manufacturers must be allowed a “reasonable” opportunity to repair defects, so if you take your vehicle to an independent repair shop rather than the manufacturer or authorized dealer, you may lose your right to a refund or replacement.

When to Discuss the Legalities Surrounding Lemons

If you think you may have purchased a lemon, it is important to get legal advice straight away, as legislation regarding consumer rights varies across different states and territories. Additionally, gathering evidence around your purchase may be beneficial when making a claim. If possible, make sure that you obtain paperwork from the seller outlining any warranties or guarantees available with your vehicle in order to ensure your rights as a consumer are protected should there be an issue later on down the track.

According to California lemon law, a vehicle’s manufacturer has the responsibility of either replacing the vehicle or refunding the vehicle's purchase price if it can be proven to be a lemon. However, it is important to remember that the burden of proof does ultimately fall on the consumer. Car manufacturers/retailers will do everything in their power to prevent you from getting your money back, which is why hiring an experienced attorney can prove invaluable in ensuring you receive compensation.

At O’Connor Law Group, P.C., We Understand Lemon Law

Purchasing a car is an important decision, and it can be difficult for even the most savvy customer to tell whether they are getting a reliable vehicle or one that has the potential to become a lemon. It behooves all parties involved in buying a car to be aware of the laws in their area and what they must do to protect themselves in case they unknowingly buy a lemon.

It’s also important to have a good attorney on your side who understands lemon law and how to advocate for individuals who end up with faulty or unsafe vehicles. At O’Connor Law Group, P.C., we have a proven track record of assisting clients with litigation related to lemon law, and promise to fight for all individuals who get an unfair deal on used, or “pre-owned vehicles.” Contact us today for a free consultation, and don’t let that lemon drive you crazy anymore.

O’Connor Law Group, P.C. is available by phone at (949) 390-9695. For more information, you can also contact us online.

Share To: