Man searching for cars online through private parties.

Private Parties, Online Sales, and the Lemon Law

By: Sepehr Daghighian, Esq.

Today, more and more car buyers and skipping traditional brick-and-mortar car dealerships and, instead, finding their cars online.  For many, purchases from private parties, eBay, auto-brokers, CarMax, Carvana, Craigslist, Car Gurus, and other online resources have replaced the traditional joy of visiting and haggling with one’s local dealership.  However, questions arise as to the availability of lemon law protections when one purchases a vehicle from a private party, from out of state, or from another non-traditional source.

Is There a Warrantable Defect?

The first question in determining if lemon law protection is available is whether or not the vehicle’s defects are covered by a manufacturer’s warranty.  In order for the lemon law to apply, the purchaser must be able to demonstrate a warrantable defect. Warranty coverage is most often found either under the original manufacturer’s warranty or through a certified pre-owned (“CPO”) warranty.  In the absence of warranty coverage, lemon law protection is unlikely.  

Which Lemon Law Applies?

Once warranty coverage is determined next step is determining which of the many available lemon laws covers the vehicle’s purchase.  For instance, California’s Song-Beverly Act is limited in covering purchases made in California and from retailers. Thus, purchases from private parties or from out-of-state retailers may not be covered by the Song-Beverly Act.  Meanwhile, the Federal lemon law, the Magnusson-Moss Act, does not feature these same limitations. Therefore, an expert lemon law attorney can oftentimes find coverage, even when a vehicle is purchased from a private party or from out of state.  

What to Do Next?

CCA recommends that you consult with a lemon law attorney to determine if your vehicle’s issues and your purchase are covered by one or more of the applicable lemon laws.  The first step will be to determine if your vehicle’s defects were covered by a manufacturer’s warranty. Next, we must determine which of the applicable lemon laws applies to your purchase.  

Our expert lemon attorneys are available to you for a free consultation to determine if your vehicle qualifies under the lemon law.  Further, because all of our services are paid for by the automakers, you will never receive a bill from us for our work. CCA invites you to contact us today for a free consultation: (833) LEMON-FIRM.