The California Lemon Law’s “Implied Warranty of Merchantability”

THE IMPLIED WARRANTY OF MERCHANTABILITY CAN APPLY TO VEHICLES NOT OTHERWISE COVERED BY THE CALIFORNIA LEMON LAW

If you buy a used car or truck after the manufacturer’s warranty has expired, then many of the strongest provisions of the California lemon law will not apply to your vehicle. In particular, the California lemon law’s “Repurchase” and “Replacement” Remedies are not available for cars and trucks purchased without a manufacturer’s warranty. But that doesn’t mean that you are destined to be left with a sour taste if your used car turns out to be a lemon. You may be able to obtain monetary damages or a vehicle repurchase by utilizing the California lemon law’s “implied warranty of merchantability” provisions.

This page explains the Conditions for the Implied Warranty of Merchantability to Apply under the California lemon law, as well as How the Implied Warranty Can Help if You Bought a Lemon, and How Long the Implied Warranty of Merchantability Lasts.

Conditions for the Implied Warranty of Merchantability to Apply Under the California Lemon Law”

The California lemon law statute (at California Civil Code Section 1792) imposes the implied warranty of merchantability on all “consumer goods” that are “sold at retail” in this State. Because of the lemon law’s definitions in California Civil Code Section 1791, the “consumer goods” requirement means that vehicles must be used for personal purposes (as opposed to commercial or business uses), and the “sold at retail” requirement means that the implied warranty of merchantability only applies to vehicles sold by car dealerships in this State (as opposed to private party sales).

Another important limitation imposed by the California lemon law statute is that the implied warranty of merchantability does not apply to vehicles that were sold on an “As Is” basis. See this Web site’s page on the Requirements for “As-Is” Sales to see if your vehicle’s purchase satisfies the strict conditions required in order to be deemed an “As Is” sale.

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How Can the California Lemon Law’s “Implied Warranty of Merchantability” Help If My Vehicle Turns Out to be a Lemon?

Presuming that a vehicle is purchased from a car dealership and was not properly sold as an “as is” vehicle, then under California Civil Code Section 1791.1 the following rules apply:

  1. The vehicle’s mechanical condition must be at least good enough that it would “pass without objection in the trade under the contract description;”
  2. It must be fit for the ordinary purposes for which vehicles are used;
  3. It must be adequately contained, packaged, and labeled; and
  4. It must fulfill the promises (if any) made on any labels or signs posted on the vehicle while it was being sold.

What do these four legal requirements mean? Essentially they mean that the vehicle must be capable of providing safe, basic transportation. So problems like malfunctioning stereos, excessive wind noise and vibration, and squeaking brakes are not covered by the implied warranty of merchantability. But if you buy a vehicle turns out to have malfunctions and defects so serious that they prevent you from using the vehicle for its intended purpose (e.g., the vehicle will not start or cannot be driven, brakes that go soft or don’t work at all, frequently stalling, or an inability to accelerate to highway speed) then the Dealership has breached the implied warranty of merchantability.

If you would like to discuss whether or not the California lemon law’s implied warranty of merchantability applies to your car or truck, then call the Vachon Law Firm right now at 1-855-4-LEMON-LAW (1-855-453-6665). Consultations are always FREE!

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How Long Does the California Lemon Law’s “Implied Warranty of Merchantability” Last?

Under the California lemon law statute (at California Civil Code Section 1791.1(c)), the implied warranty of merchantability generally lasts the same length of time as any “express warranty” that accompanied the sale of the vehicle, except that the implied warranty of merchantability cannot last less than 60 days or more than one year. For the California lemon law’s purposes, the term “express warranty” basically means any written promise to repair any vehicle breakdowns or malfunctions. If there was no “express warranty” or if the length of the express warranty was not stated, then under the California lemon law the implied warranty of merchantability lasts for the maximum period of one year.

If you own a lemon, and want to find out whether the implied warranty of merchantability still applies, then call the Vachon Law Firm right now at 1-855-4-LEMON-LAW (1-855-453-6665). Consultations are always FREE!

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