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Buying a Certified Used Car?

Info From San Diego Lemon Law Attorneys

Certified used or “Certified Pre-Owned” or "CPO" are a way in which that manufacturers or dealers can sell used vehicles for a premium, because they are certified. Be wary of CPO vehicles; just because a vehicle is a CPO, it does not mean that it is immune from the problems that you can encounter with any other used vehicle, such as a prior wreck, lemon law buyback, or prior rental. The California Lemon Law attorneys at Rosner, Barry & Babbitt, LLP are providing information to help consumers understand their rights under the auto lemon law.

What Is A Certified Used Vehicle?

A certified used car or CPO is a refurbished vehicle that has undergone an inspection and received certification from a manufacturer or dealer. A manufacturer certifies a vehicle by using the manufacturer’s network of dealers to determine if the car is worth certifying. While the exact nature of the inspection varies from manufacturer to manufacturer, a typical factory certified used vehicle has undergone a rigorous inspection of at least 100 points.

You need to be wary of the exact benefit you are getting from a CPO vehicle. It varies from manufacturer to manufacturer. Some manufacturers will provide an extension of the manufacturer’s bumper-to-bumper limited warranty. If they do this, it is typically one year or 12,000 miles. Other manufacturers may include with a CPO vehicle an extension of the power train warranty for the vehicle. The power train on a vehicle is the engine, transmission and drive train. Finally, there are manufacturers that give you nothing for the purchase of a certified warranty except a service contract or agreement. Dealer personnel often tell consumers that the service agreement is an extended warranty, but it is not. It is similar to an insurance policy. If you have a mechanical problem with your vehicle and the part that is causing the problem is covered by the service agreement, the service agreement company will pay for the repair. Sometimes there is a deductible that the consumer must pay, such as $50 or $100. Often times with CPO service agreements, there is no deductible. The difference between a warranty and service agreement is very important, because under the law your remedies may be different. If you have a problem that is covered under a warranty, you may be able to get the vehicle repurchased or replaced under the lemon law. If you have a problem with a part covered by a service agreement, you remedy will likely be limited to getting that part replaced or repaired, meaning you do not get the rights afforded under the lemon law.

Dealers can also certify used vehicles. Regardless of whether it is the dealer or manufacturer selling a CPO vehicle, the law in Vehicle Code Section 11713.18 specifically prohibits the sale of vehicles as certified in which:

In addition to these requirements, the dealer has an affirmative duty to disclosure material facts about the vehicle’s history. The dealer must give you this information, even if you do not ask. If the dealer does not disclose important facts about substantive prior accidents, repairs, damage and status as a rental vehicle, it is a misrepresentation. Moreover, if the dealer conceals any information about the case in response to a direct question, such as "has the vehicle been in an accident before?", you may be able to pursue a fraud claim against the dealership.

If you have purchased a certified used vehicle with a warranty and the vehicle experiences defects that are covered under that warranty, you have all of the protections afforded consumers under the CA lemon law.

Protect Yourself Before You Buy

If you plan to purchase a certified used vehicle, there are some important steps to take to protect yourself from auto dealership fraud:

If you think you have been the victim of auto dealership fraud, contact the San Diego lemon law lawyers at Rosner, Barry & Babbitt, LLP for a free consultation.