Obviously, not all Californians own vehicles that they purchased or leased in this state. However, the California lemon law explicitly excludes from coverage automobiles that were not purchased at retail in California. That means that the vast majority of consumers who purchased out-of-state automobiles will not qualify for coverage under the lemon law.
That being said, there may still be hope for getting rid of your lemon car even if you purchased it outside of California.
In 1975, the Federal Government has enacted a statute containing provision that are roughly similar to those included in the California lemon law. The Magnuson-Moss Warranty Act (sometimes called the “federal lemon law”) covers all products sold in the U.S. that are sold with warranties and which are typically used for consumer purposes. It also sets forth certain minimum standards for written warranties.
Most importantly, the federal lemon law requires that warrantors either repair defective products within a reasonable number of attempts or offer to buy them back. Like state lemon laws, the Magnuson-Moss Warranty Act also allows prevailing consumers to recover their attorneys’ fees and costs from losing manufacturers and warrantors.
Generally state lemon laws offer greater protection and more effective remedies than the federal lemon law; however, if you are in a situation where the California does not apply, you should consult a qualified consumer law attorney to discuss your rights under the Magnuson-Moss Warranty Act.
Generally, the question of where an automobile was purchase or leased is easy to determine. If you went to a car dealership, paid for it there, and drove it away the dealership is probably the place of sale.
However, when consumers order automobiles from out-of-state car dealers and/or have them delivered to California the question of where the vehicle was sold becomes much more difficult. California’s Appellate Courts have interpreted the California lemon law’s statutory text to mean that a vehicle is “sold in California” if title passes between the buyer and the seller within this state.
So how do you determine where the title passed? Well, you don’t. It’s something you should consult an attorney to discuss. Where title passes is an inherently difficult legal question that will require an analysis of all of the facts and circumstances of your particular transaction. Accordingly, prior to contacting an attorney to obtain an opinion of where title passed, consumers would be wise to gather all of their paperwork regarding the ordering of the vehicle, its sale, and its delivery to California.