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“Certified” Used Cars

Over the last fifteen years, California car dealerships began to offer “certified” used cars and trucks. The dealers claim that they vehicles have been “thoroughly inspected” and meet the highest quality standards. However, far too often these claims turn out to be nothing but a phony sales pitch used to increase the price that consumers are willing to pay.

Car Buyer’s Bill of Rights Provisions Relating to “Certified” Used Cars

Because of the wide-spread misrepresentations about so-called “certified” vehicles, in July, 2006 the California legislature in Sacramento enacted the Car Buyer’s Bill of Rights, which contains statutory protections that apply to any vehicle advertised as “certified.” Among these protections, it is illegal for a California car dealership to advertise a vehicle as “certified” if any of the following are true:

  1. the dealer knows or should know that the odometer does not state the vehicle’s actual mileage;
  2. the dealer knows or should know that the vehicle was repurchased by the manufacturer because it failed to comply with applicable warranty laws (including vehicles bought back under the “lemon law”);
  3. the title to the vehicle is branded as a salvage, junk, non-repairable, flood, lemon law buyback, manufacturer repurchase, or any similar brand;
  4. the vehicle sustained accident, fire, or flood damage that substantially impairs the use, value, or safety of the vehicle; or
  5. the dealer knows or should know that the vehicle sustained frame damage.


Dealer Must Give Buyer a Copy of the Inspection Report

In addition, in any “certified” used vehicle sale, a car dealer must provide the purchaser with a completed inspection report indicating all of the components inspected. Dealers are also prohibited from attempting to disclaim California’s implied warranties (which are generally applicable to vehicle sales) and from attempting to sell the car or truck as an “as is” vehicle if the vehicle is sold as “certified.”

If a California car dealership violated any of the above-listed prohibitions, or if you have reason to believe that your used car or truck was not thoroughly inspected and reconditioned, then you should contact a California lemon law attorney to discuss your legal rights.