Lemon Laws May Cover CPO Cars

Are CPOs Covered by Lemon Laws?

Certified Pre-Owned (CPO) vehicles are being aggressively marketed by most major automakers. And no wonder. As the economy weakens, most peoples’ desire to pay a premium for brand new cars has dropped noticeably. But are these cars covered by lemon laws? And if not, what protections do CPO buyers have?

When Does a CPO Qualify for Lemon Law Protections?

To begin with, in many states, a CPO vehicle purchased before the expiration of that state’s New Car Lemon Law may be covered if it meets the times/days in repair requirement.

For example, if a New York consumer purchases a vehicle with 9,000 miles on the odometer, and, before the vehicle hits 18,000 miles, ends up taking it to the shop 4 times for the same problem, or it spends 30 days in the shop, then the vehicle would be covered by the New York Lemon Law.

The same would be true under Massachusetts lemon law, Connecticut lemon law, New York lemon, New Jersey lemon law, Pennsylvania lemon law, and Maryland lemon law.

The remedy here is a refund of the money paid for the car or a replacement vehicle.

What happens once the vehicle has exceeded the New Car lemon law threshold?

Used car lemon laws may cover CPO vehicles that have passed the new car lemon law limit.  Used car lemon laws are generally limited in duration (90 days maximum, for instance, under New York Used Car Lemon Law), so this protection may not have much use for relatively new cars that develop problems shortly, but not immediately after purchase. Moreover, some state, including Connecticut, do not have effective Used Car Lemon Laws.

When all else fails, warranty laws come into play.  It turns out that the when a manufacturer sells a used vehicle that it has certified to be in good condition and repair and warrants it for a period of time, a ‘warranty’ is created.  If the vehicle turns out to be a lemon, the Federal Magnuson Moss Act and state breach of warranty laws may provide a cause of action against the manufacturer or dealer for the loss in value of the vehicle.  These laws generally don’t provide the remedy of a full refund, but damages may be collected.

The long and short of it is that, when it comes to CPO vehicles, buyers have fewer protections than with new cars.  Therefore, it’s even more important to do research on the CPO make and model and carefully examine the vehicle and its history before the purchase.  Better be safe, then sorry.

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