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Who is Responsible for a Defect After You Buy a Car?

  Norman Taylor & Associates
  October 18, 2018

It’s happened to everyone: You buy something, take it home and realize that it’s not what it was advertised to be. Perhaps the product doesn’t work as advertised, or a piece is broken so it doesn’t work at all. So, what do you do next? With receipt in hand, you take it back to the store where you purchased it and ask for a refund. But, what if the defective product was a car, truck, SUV, or motorcycle?

What happens when you take the car home and later discover the vehicle has a serious problem and despite your attempts to get it fixed, the issue won’t correct itself? Can you get your money back? Do you have legal recourse even though you’ve driven the car off the lot and around town for some time? Or, since it’s used, do you have to suffer the losses?

Do You Have a Warranty?

When people call our firm about a defective vehicle, our first question is, does the car have a warranty in effect? If the car has a warranty, there’s a good chance that it’s covered; however, whether or not the manufacturer can be held responsible depends on the exact defect and whether it’s covered by the warranty.

Vehicle warranties do not cover everything. They typically cover the parts that are meant to last throughout the life of the car, such as electronics, suspension and engine parts. However, items that need to be replaced due to wear and tear, such as tires and brakes are not usually covered.

Do you have a warranty on your vehicle? If not, you’re probably out of luck because such sales are usually sold “as is” and this means you’re buying the car in its existing condition. If you purchase a car “as is” and without a warranty, it’s basically yours and you don’t have legal recourse if the car is defective.

However, some dealers won’t want to risk their reputation so as a good will gesture, they’ll offer the buyer some type of compensation or they’ll fix it at a reduced cost, but they’re not usually obligated to do this, so it’s not guaranteed. That’s the risk people take when they buy used cars without warranties.

To learn more, we recommend reading, “Is the Lemon Law Limited by Mileage?” To discuss filing a Lemon Law claim in California, contact Norman Taylor & Associates today.

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