California Lemon Law Guide: The Implied Warranty and Time Limits for Claims

Unless sold “As-Is,” all cars come with a warranty of fitness that is implied by law. Was the car frame-damaged or had some other latent defect at the time of sale? The implied warranty protects you. But for how long? Recent case law developments have clarified that, under the Song-Beverly Consumer Warranty Act, the lemon law, consumers have four years from sale, OR were diligent but unable to do so due to the defendant’s fraudulent conduct. Here are the key cases: Mexia v. Rinker Boat Co., 95 Cal.Rptr.3d at 291, Daniel v. Ford Motor Company, and Phillips v. Ford Motor Company. Reading this trio of cases tells us a latent defect need not manifest, nor be brought within one year, as some have argued under Cal.Civ.Code Section 1791.1(c). Four years is soon enough. The Phillips Court also held that even four years will not be the limit, if the consumer can plead and prove fraudulent concealment by the defendant and that he or she used due diligence in an attempt to uncover the true facts.

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