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Used Car Buyers Get Relief from California Bill of Rights
Buying a used car from either an individual or a professional car dealer can be a bit of a scary experience. Used car buyers have the protection of auto lemon laws in all fifty states. If the car turns out to be habitually defective, buyers have recourse and can receive either a refund or a replacement vehicle. Used car buyers have no such assurances. Unless the dealer offers a written warranty, the buyer is stuck if anything goes wrong, even if it happens five minutes after the car leaves the dealer's lot.
That situation will improve in California as the state has put into effect a car buyer's Bill of Rights. This new law offers a number of protections for buyers of used cars. The bill isn't perfect; like all such legislation, compromise was required. It is a step in the right direction, though, and one that would be nice to see in all fifty states.
There are numerous provisions to the bill, but perhaps the most significant is the option offered to buyers to return the car to the dealer within two days if they are not satisfied with it. There need not be anything wrong with the car; buyers may return it for any reason or no reason at all. This will protect buyers against any problems that "magically" show up right after the car leaves the dealer's lot. The dealers are permitted to charge a fee for the return privilege; buyers may elect to skip it or may negotiate the price for it. The price will range up to $250 for cars priced at up to $30,000. Cars priced at higher values are exempt from the law. There is also an additional charge for returning the car, which dealers say is necessary to prepare the car for resale. While the option to return the car is not free, it is available, and many buyers will be grateful for that.
Other provisions of the law require dealers to show prospective buyers price lists for the vehicle both with and without any additional options the buyer may wish to purchase. The law also restricts the amount of money that the dealer may make from financing a vehicle through a third party.
California's passage of a lemon law in the early 1980's helped spur the creation of similar laws in other states. Car buyers everywhere would benefit greatly if the other states paid attention to California's used car protections. While the law isn't perfect, it does represent a step in the right direction for which all used car buyers should be grateful.
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