Consumers are confused by the used car market. Not just with “as is” sales, but now with “Certified Pre-Owned” cars. People buy them and then are surprised when they wonk out. “What? The Lemon Law doesn’t cover CPO cars?” No, no it doesn’t.

“Certified Pre Owned” is probably the greatest marketing stratery to sell goods in America since “light” beer. Tastes great and less filling! Whee! Wait. Is it better for you, or does it just take up less volume? Didn’t my previous beer taste great? Why are millions of people chanting this at baseball games?

So, people buy CPO cars and are hypnotized by the “175 - Point Checklist” that the car was EXHAUSTIVELY tested against. And now it is a CPO car. Which means . . . . That it is a used car, probably being sold by the dealer “as is” and it has a manufacturer’s warranty. That particular warranty might be longer than it would be otherwise, but it gives you no (zero) extra legal rights with respect to the Lemon Law.

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So, your CPO car blows up as you drive it off the lot, or the mechanic points out that it was bent in half and then straightened? Good luck with that. A wise attorney once said you should always inspect any used car you are buying. And no, you cannot count on the seller’s inspection. Even if they do “certify” it for its CPO status.

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Steve Lehto has been practicing law for 24 years, almost exclusively in consumer protection and Michigan lemon law. He wrote The Lemon Law Bible and Chrysler’s Turbine Car: The Rise and Fall of Detroit’s Coolest Creation.

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