California Lemon Law & Buying “As-Is” Vehicles

Many consumers opt to purchase less expensive used vehicles, and sometimes those vehicles are sold with an “as-is” disclaimer. These “as-is” disclaimers are meant to inform consumers that the vehicle may come with defects or flaws that are the sole responsibility of the buyer. Sellers label these vehicles “as-is” so that they legally disclaim any implied warranties—unwritten warranties that guarantee a vehicle will run as it should—and alert the buyer that they are purchasing a vehicle whose faults are not covered under any warranty and are not the responsibility of the seller or manufacturer.

As long as buyers are aware of the risk they assume when purchasing a used “as-is” vehicle, and the seller properly displays and discloses a vehicle’s “as-is” status, then the transaction is operating in accordance with the law. However, it’s important to note that buyers of “as-is” vehicles aren’t without rights when it comes to issues of fraud. Sometimes dealers attempt to sell vehicles “as-is” without following proper legal procedures that would allow them eliminate a vehicle’s implied warranty, or they use deceptive practices to convince consumers that they purchased their vehicle “as-is,” even though the dealer didn’t follow the appropriate labeling measures.

Bottom line: just because you purchased a vehicle “as-is” doesn’t mean you are without any legal rights. If you suspect that your dealer defrauded you by not adhering to proper “as-is” disclaimers, or used deceptive methods to coerce you into signing an “as-is” agreement, then you may have a case.

Contact us at the Law Offices of Robert Mobasseri for a free case evaluation with one of our experienced lemon law attorneys. Call us at 213-282-2000 to speak personally with a member of our firm who can answer your questions and provide you with guidance regarding your legal options. You can also submit a free online evaluation form to be reviewed by one of our lemon law attorneys who will contact you further with more information. We provide consultations to all California consumers, free of charge and with no strings attached.

What are “as-is” vehicles? & Why do people buy “as-is” vehicles?

There are obvious benefits to buying “as-is” vehicles: they’re often much less expensive than certified pre-owned vehicles, and certainly cheaper than new vehicles. And many vehicles sold “as-is” end up operating quite well and for long after the consumer drives it off the lot. The disadvantage of buying an “as-is” vehicle is, however, the risk assumed when purchasing a product not protected by any warranty, which leaves a buyer financially responsible for any necessary problems and repairs.

Buying “As-is” vehicles is not dissimilar from buying a house that’s a fixer-upper: often you’re getting a great deal, but it may require more money and work on your end to make it last. Consumer protection laws ensure that any dealer selling a vehicle “as-is” must have its status properly displayed and on the vehicle’s buyer’s guide, where a box will be checked noting that the vehicle is being sold “As Is – No Warranty.” If dealers follow proper selling and disclose procedures, then they have no responsibility to inform buyers of the vehicle’s known problems or prior history, so the buyer assumes a marked risk in acquiring an “as-is” vehicle that might need any number of repairs at any given time.

What has to be displaced on an “as-is” vehicle when it’s being sold?

In order for an “as-is” sale to be legal, certain disclaimers must be clearly displayed on the vehicle, and its “as-is” status must be disclosed on the vehicle’s buyer’s guide. Without these express disclaimers, the seller is violating consumer protection standards and the buyer may be entitled to a refund, replacement, and/or related damages.

A sign or label must be clear and attached to the vehicle in question, and it must denote the following information:

  • the vehicle is being sold “as is” or “with all faults”
  • the vehicle’s quality and ability to perform is the sole responsibility of the buyer
  • if the vehicle displays a defect or is altogether defective after purchase, the buyer is solely responsible for the entirety of repair costs, not the manufacturer or the dealer
  • Each of these pieces of information must be clearly labeled and displayed on the vehicle that the dealer is attempting to sell “as-is.” If any of the above information is missing, then the vehicle was not legally sold “as-is” and is thus subject to certain legal protections, like an implied warranty.

    Even if the dealer had you sign an agreement during your purchase that the vehicle is being sold “as-is,” unless a label was properly affixed to the vehicle in question, and its label had all the required information listed above, then according to California’s lemon laws, it was not a proper “as-is” sale and you may be awarded subsequent damages.

    What should you do if you were sold an “as is” vehicle that turned out to be a lemon?

    Often times sellers don’t follow proper legal procedures when selling a vehicle with an “as-is” status, but they might try and argue with a complaining buyer that they signed an “as-is” agreement and forfeited any warranty rights. However, even if you purchased a vehicle on a “with all fault” or “as is” status, you are not without rights, especially if you suspect that the dealer of your vehicle did not follow the letter of the law during the sale.

    California’s lemon law can be complex, and many dealers try to skirt the law and convince consumers that they have few rights when it comes to “as-is” sales and the lemon law. A dependable way to explore your legal options, have your questions answered, and determined if you a have a case is to get in touch with one our knowledgeable and experienced lemon law lawyers. Call us at 213-282-2000 to speak to one our attorneys personally who can advise you on your case and assist you in determining what legal options you have. You can also submit a free and online case evaluation to be reviewed by a member of our firm. You are not without rights, and we at the Law Offices of Robert Mobasseri are eager to answer your questions, explore your options, and provide you with information and guidance you deserve.

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    Lemon Law Auto Fraud serves the following California counties: Inyo, Imperial, Kern, Los Angeles, Mono, Orange, Riverside, San Bernardino, San Diego, San Luis Obispo, Santa Barbara, Tulare, and Ventura.

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    Disclaimer: The following Lemon Law and Auto Fraud information has been compiled from various public sources. It is presented online for informational use only, and without warranty as to its accuracy, timeliness, or completeness. This site does not replace any official versions of the information presented, nor does use of this information constitute an attorney-client relationship. It is always recommended that you do not make any decisions about any legal matter without first consulting an attorney to ensure that all of your rights are protected, as well as to find out if your vehicle meets the established Lemon Law or Auto Fraud Criteria for your state.