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Panel Blasts Resale of 'Lemon' Cars

October 28, 1994|From a Times Staff Writer

SACRAMENTO — New cars that normally would be classified as "lemons" are being resold to unsuspecting buyers, and the head of the Assembly's Consumer Protection Committee wants the practice stopped.

"In brief, the manufacturers are packaging their lemons as peaches," said Assemblywoman Jackie Speier (D-Burlingame), the committee's chairwoman. "Only the fruit, in many cases, is rotten."

Speier and other committee members heard Thursday from disgruntled car buyers who complained about buying nearly new cars from dealers only to find out later, after a run of constant troubles ranging from squeaky doors to bad brakes, that the vehicles had a history of problems.

Although California has a so-called lemon law, Speier said there is a loophole.

Under state law, a new car is declared a lemon if it cannot be fixed after several attempts. The buyer is given a replacement. The car labeled a lemon can be resold by the manufacturer, but only after it has been repaired and its title changed so that future buyers know it was a lemon.

But the problem, the committee was told, is that some manufacturers are buying back the faulty autos before they are officially listed as lemons and reselling them without telling buyers about their history.

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