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California Boat Lemon Law


If you purchased a defective boat that is covered by a warranty, you are protected by the same laws that cover cars, bikes, RVs, computers and many other items in California – the California Boat Lemon Law. This means that sellers are discouraged from selling boats that will break down soon after purchase. the California Boat Lemon Law is considered a form of fraud protection.

It is important to retain the bill of sale from a seller when buying a boat. This holds true even if the boat is secondhand. If the boat is used, you should also obtain an evaluation statement by a qualified expert. A good mechanic should check out the engine, the hull’s integrity and other aspects important to a boat.

The statement the mechanic gives you after this ‘diagnosis’ should outline the condition of the boat at the time of purchase. The owner owner should give you a written assurance that the boat is seaworthy and will not develop serious problems within a certain period of time. This period can be mutually agreed upon.

You cannot exercise ‘lemon’ rights for a boat if you bought it without having its defects highlighted. This will release the seller from any responsibility by what is legally called ‘caveat emptor’ – you have bought the boat with all present and future defects.

If the boat is new, it should come with a warranty that includes a money-back option. If it is a replacement/repair-only warranty, you may have no recourse but to settle for another lemon.

Richard Romando

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