The bad news is that a lot of dishonest dealers routinely cheat consumers, despite California lemon law and California auto fraud laws that are designed to protect consumers. The good news is that consumers are protected by strong, clear consumer rights. Our California lemon lawyers have put together a brief overview of your rights as a California vehicle buyer or lessee.
You have the right to a vehicle whose odometer is accurate or written disclosure that it is not.
You have a right to disclosure of prior material damages to a vehicle — e.g., you must be told if a vehicle has been in a major accident. If you ask about prior accidents, moreover, you have a right to a truthful response.
Prior History/Rental Vehicles
You have a right to be told if the vehicle is a prior rental vehicle. This information must be physically posted on the vehicle at the time of sale.
Undisclosed Negative Equity/Upside-Down on Trade-in Vehicles
You have a right to receive proper disclosures in a sale contract under truth-in-lending laws. This includes disclosure of negative equity in your trade-in vehicle, proper disclosure of deferred down payments and proper itemization of extras and add-ons that are part of the deal.
Buyer’s Guide/Used Vehicles
You have a right to review, sign and receive a copy of a “Buyer’s Guide” on all used cars. The Buyer’s Guide must be affixed to the vehicle at the time of the sale.
You have a right to truthful price and payment quotes by sales representatives. Often dealers will quote a higher monthly payment than the deal calls for and then “pack” in highly profitable extras, which are represented as “free” or “discounted.”
Copies of Signed Documents and Credit Applications
You have a right to copies of all documents that you sign during the deal, including your credit application.
You have a right to personally sign all documents.
Receipt of Spanish-Translated Contracts
If you negotiate a transaction primarily in Spanish, you have a right to a Spanish translation of the sale or lease contract and the “Buyer’s Guide.”
You have a right to have all your agreements regarding price, payments, rights, and remedies set forth in a single document (the sales contract).
You have a right to proper disclosure if the vehicle has been previously repurchased as a “lemon,” including accurate disclosure of any prior problems with the vehicle.
New vs. Used Disclosures
You have right to have a clear disclosure in the sales contract whether the vehicle is new or used. If a vehicle has been driven by a dealer as a “demo” model or has been previously bought and returned, it must be disclosed as used.
Dates on Contracts
Simply put, you have a right to a contract that is dated correctly.