Sounds like there may be some auto-fraud involved. Lemon law is for new cars that have issues, here it seems like the used-car dealer didn't disclose things.
You may be entitled to attorneys fees if you have an attorney pursue this for you.
I personally do not do Auto-Fraud cases but know of someone who does.
Feel free to call me and I would be glad to set you up with them.
Elliot is right about an appearance of auto sales fraud in your situation. California has some special laws that govern used car sales. They also have a very strong lemon law. The definition of a lemon vehicle in California is: 4 times subject to repair or total of 30 calendar days or 2 repair attempts for safety defects, within shorter of 18 months or 18,000 miles, or a reasonable number of attempts during entire express warranty period. Every state has its own Lemon Law and whether your vehicle is a lemon depends on your state’s laws and the facts of your case. You can read an outline of your state's Lemon Law on this web page (http://ohiolemonlaw.com/state-lemon-law-summaries.htm). There is also a federal lemon law that covers almost all consumer purchases and it can help you too; it's called the Magnuson Moss Warranty Act. Some state lemon laws only cover vehicles purchased new and other state laws (like Ohio) can cover used or new, so you have to read your state's particular law to know what your legal rights are. On top of that, California has a special Car Buyer’s Bill of Rights law that you can read about on this web page (http://dmv.ca.gov/pubs/brochures/fast_facts/ffvr35.htm). In a used car sale, your legal rights are mostly determined by the paperwork that you sign. Look to see if anything was written down about any kind of warranty or guarantee or right to cancel the deal. If so, then that may be binding on both you and the dealer. When you bought it can matter too. If you bought it very recently, then you may have more legal rights (again, depending on your paperwork and what representations were made to you when you bought it). But that’s still not the end of it. If the vehicle has hidden damage the dealer knew about and didn’t tell you then that could be fraud too. There’s also a federal law that requires all car dealers to post on the window of all used cars they are selling a special “Buyer Guide” form (it’s often called a Used Car Window Sticker) that discloses whether or not a warranty comes with the car. Many small lot car dealers don’t comply with the law. If they don’t, then you may end up with a warranty after all and you may even have the right to cancel the sale. The back side of the form has to be completely filled out and many car lots, big and small, fail to do that too and that can also trigger your right to cancel the deal. You can see what the Buyer Guide form looks like on this web site page (http://ohiolemonlaw.com/used-car-lemon-law.html). There’s only way to know for sure what your legal rights are - talk to a local Consumer Law attorney who deals with this kind of case (it's called "autofraud" or car sales fraud). Car Law is a special area that not a lot of attorneys know about so try to find one who has experience with it. Luckily, California has a larger number of auto sales fraud and lemon law lawyers around the state and lemon lawyers often handle car sales fraud cases too. You can look here on Avvo for one near you under Find a Lawyer. Or you can call your local attorney's Bar Association and ask for a referral to a Consumer Law attorney near you or you can go to this web site page for a Free Online 50 State National List of Consumer Law Lawyers (http://www.ohiolemonlaw.com/ocll-site/ocll-locate_local.shtml) and find one near you (lawyers don’t pay to get listed here and most of them are members of the only national association for Consumer Law lawyers, NACA.net). But act quickly because for every legal right you have, there is only a limited amount of time to actually file a lawsuit in court or your rights expire (it's called the statute of limitations), so don't waste your time getting to a Consumer Law attorney and finding out what your rights are. If this answer was helpful, please give it a “Vote Up” below. Thanks. Ron Burdge, www.CarSalesFraud.com
This answer is for general purposes only and does not establish an attorney-client relationship. Click the link to find a Consumer Law attorney near you.
This will, like so many other cases, come down to what the K says. It's hard to imagine they are willing to unwind the deal but just happen to be damaged by $600.00. It's also unlikely that they have a provision in the contract saying that they are entitled to your down payment regardless of the size of it. You could bring this claim in small claims court in CA against the dealer OR you can have an attorney write a letter for you and if they ignore it, they can end up facing some additional penalties and having to pay your attorney. The first way is the quickest and easiest. The second way may teach them a lesson.