Dealership Has Had My Car For a Month: How a Lemon Law Attorney Can Help

The prolonged absence of your vehicle can disrupt your schedule, increase your reliance on alternative transportation, and increase inconvenience, especially when there’s a lack of communication about the delay. It’s normal for a dealership to hold your car for a few weeks but after 30 days, we recommend taking action.

So, the dealership has had my car for a month. What should I do?

Understanding the provisions of the law regarding how long a dealership can keep your car for repairs is crucial for all vehicle owners. With the right information and appropriate steps, you can speed up the repair process or get appropriate compensation if your car is a lemon.

Our experienced California lemon law attorneys at The Lemon Pros can help you get the compensation you deserve if your car is a lemon. We’ve helped over 5,000 clients in Los Angeles, San Francisco, Riverside, San Jose, San Diego, Sacramento, Sherman Oaks, and all across California. Schedule a free consultation with us! We’ll review your case for free and help you get befitting compensation via a successful lemon law claim.

In this blog, you’ll discover how long your car should stay at the dealership, what you should do in case of prolonged repairs, and how a lemon law lawyer can help you.

How Long Can a Dealership Hold Your Car For Repair in California?

How Long Can a Dealership Hold Your Car For Repair in California?

Conventionally, the dealership is expected to hold your car for a maximum of 30 days (one month). However, note that THIS IS NOT STIPULATED BY LAW in California.

In California, the length of time a dealership or any auto repair shop can hold your car for repair is not strictly defined by a specific number of days. However, California’s Automotive Repair Act requires repair shops, including dealerships, to provide customers with a written estimate of repair costs before any work is done. This includes an estimate of the time it will take to complete the repairs.

If the repair is taking longer than initially estimated, the car dealership or repair shop is supposed to inform you about the delay. In some cases, they may need your consent to continue with the repair beyond the estimated time. Ideally, they should also receive an updated completion date.

Why Your Car Is With the Dealership For So Long

Why Your Car Is With the Dealership For So Long

One of the most common reasons for delays is the unavailability of necessary parts. The dealership has to order it from the manufacturer or a third-party supplier if the part needed for your repair is not in stock. The order and delivery may take time, especially if it’s a rare or back-ordered component.

Sometimes, the issue with the car isn’t straightforward. So. the technicians need additional time to diagnose the problem accurately. Complex electrical or computer-related issues can be particularly time-consuming to figure out. Also, dealerships can get very busy, especially during certain times of the year or when there’s a recall affecting many vehicles. If the service department is backlogged with vehicles needing repairs, this can delay the start or completion of work on your car.

Vehicles under warranty might take longer to repair because the dealership must follow the manufacturer’s specific repair procedures to ensure the work is covered. The process can include additional steps like detailed diagnostics, documentation, and sometimes waiting for approval from the manufacturer before proceeding. For newer or more sophisticated vehicles, the dealership might need to seek technical support from the manufacturer. This can involve back-and-forth communication to diagnose the problem accurately and identify the correct solution, adding to the repair time.

Before returning your vehicle, the dealership will likely perform quality control checks to ensure that the repair meets their standards and resolves the issue. Thorough checks can add extra time but are crucial for ensuring the problem is fixed properly. Sometimes, delays are caused by issues relating to logistics, such as the transport of your vehicle within the dealership or to and from specialized repair facilities. These delays are usually minor but can add up, especially if the dealership is dealing with a high volume of repairs.

Steps to Take If Your Car Has Been at the Dealership for a Month

Steps to Take If Your Car Has Been at the Dealership for a Month

It can be frustrating to have your car at the dealership for more than a month. It can even feel worse if you’re not getting any clear explanation about what’s causing the delay. In this kind of situation, follow these steps to address the delay and possibly speed up the repair process.

1. Contact the Service Advisor

Start by calling your dealership to request an update on the status of your car and consider reaching out to the general service manager of the dealership if your request isn’t being taken seriously. You should ask about the reasons for the delay and request an estimate of the completion time.

2. Review Your Repair Order

Go over the service agreement and review the time estimated for the repairs. Also, read your warranty terms thoroughly. A warranty, unlike car insurance, is a promise from the manufacturer that they’re willing to repair or replace specific parts of your car under certain stipulated conditions and within a particular timeframe.

3. Request a Loaner Vehicle or Rental Car

You can ask if the dealership or repair shop can provide a loaner vehicle while your car is being repaired. Many dealerships offer car rental services for significant repairs or under certain warranty conditions to minimize customer inconvenience.

4. Contact the Manufacturer

If your car is under warranty and the dealership’s responses are unsatisfactory, consider contacting the vehicle manufacturer directly. The manufacturer can often intervene, especially if warranty work is involved, to speed up the repair process or offer alternative solutions.

5. Consult with a Lemon Law Attorney

For serious cases where the dealership is unresponsive or if you believe your consumer rights are being violated, you may need to consult with an attorney who specializes in consumer law or automotive cases. If your car is a lemon, consult with our experienced lemon law lawyers at The Lemon Pros and let them assess your lemon law case for free. Our lemon law lawyer can help you get the compensation you deserve by filing a lemon law claim. If your claim is successful, you can get a replacement car, buyback, or cash compensation.

6. Seek Assistance from Consumer Protection Agencies

If you’re unable to resolve the issue directly with the dealership or manufacturer, consider reaching out to consumer protection agencies. In California, the Bureau of Automotive Repair (BAR) offers assistance and mediation for disputes between consumers and repair shops. In the U.S., this could include the Better Business Bureau (BBB) or your state’s attorney general’s office. You can file a complaint and seek assistance in resolving the dispute.

7. Document Everything

Keep detailed records of all communications with the dealership and manufacturer, including dates, names of people you spoke with, and the content of those conversations. This documentation can be crucial if you need to escalate your complaint further.

How Long Do You Have to File For a Lemon Law Claim: Your Rights as a Consumer

How Long Do You Have to File For a Lemon Law Claim: Your Rights as a Consumer

In California, you must file a lawsuit within four years from the day you first noticed that the vehicle was a lemon. This period is known as the Statute of Limitations.

The four years start counting when you first note the consistent defect and not necessarily when you lease or purchase the vehicle. Usually, it starts counting with your first repair attempt. Hence, it’s important to report as soon as you notice a persistent fault with your car since the start date can vary.

How Long Does The Lemon Law Process Take?

Overall, the lemon law process can take anywhere from a few weeks to several months, depending on how each stage progresses and the specific laws and procedures in your state. The duration of the lemon law process can vary significantly based on several factors, including the nature of the case, the state you’re in (as lemon laws vary by state in the U.S.), and whether you’re able to settle the case quickly with the manufacturer or if it proceeds to arbitration or court.

The 10-Day Rule For Car Dealers in California?

In California, the 10-day rule for car dealers refers to a requirement that when a dealership arranges financing for a vehicle purchase, the financing must be finalized or “secured” within 10 days of the vehicle being taken possession of by the buyer. This rule is crucial because it protects consumers from a practice known as “yo-yo financing” or “spot delivery.”

When you take your new car home before the financing of the purchase price is fully approved by the bank or financial institution, the dealership gives you conditional approval based on the assumption that the financing will go through as discussed. However, if the dealership is unable to secure financing under the initially agreed-upon terms, they may ask you to return the car, renegotiate the financing terms, or sign a new contract.

Are You Eligible for a Lemon Law Settlement?

Are You Eligible for a Lemon Law Settlement?

Eligibility for a lemon law settlement depends on several factors related to the car being repaired and your situation. The common eligibility criteria in California include:

Type of Vehicle: California Lemon law covers new and used vehicles that are sold or leased in California with an active manufacturer’s warranty. This includes cars, trucks, vans, SUVs, and the chassis, chassis cab, and drivetrain of a motorhome. It also covers dealer-owned vehicles and demonstrators.

Warranty Coverage: Whether it’s a brand-new vehicle or a used car, the vehicle must be covered under the manufacturer’s original warranty. The law primarily applies to defects reported to the manufacturer or its authorized service centers within the warranty period.

Substantial Defect: The vehicle must have a substantial defect that impairs its use, value, or safety, and the defect must occur during the warranty period. The defect cannot be due to abuse by the owner.

Reasonable Number of Repair Attempts: The manufacturer must be given a reasonable number of attempts to repair the vehicle. The law specifies what constitutes a reasonable number of repair attempts:

  • At least two attempts have been made to repair a warranty problem that could cause death or serious bodily injury OR
  • At least four attempts have been made to fix the same warranty problem without success OR
  • The vehicle has been out of service for more than 30 calendar days (cumulative, not necessarily consecutive) for repair of warranty problems.

It is often recommended to notify the manufacturer directly, in writing, of the need for repair to ensure there is a formal record.

How a Lemon Law Attorney Can Help If Dealership Holds Your Car For Too Long

How a Lemon Law Attorney Can Help If Dealership Holds Your Car For Too Long

If a dealership has held your car for an extended period, and you suspect your vehicle may be a lemon under your state’s Lemon law, you should consult with a lemon law attorney.

A lemon law attorney can review the details of your situation, like the history of repairs, the amount of time your car has been at the dealership, and your vehicle’s warranty details. They will then let you know if you have a good chance of winning a lemon law case.

To make a successful case, proper documentation is needed. Your attorney can help you compile all necessary documentation, like repair orders, communication records with the dealership or manufacturer, and your vehicle’s purchase or lease agreement.

Lemon laws vary by state, and an attorney knowledgeable in your state’s specific laws can offer expert advice. They can explain your rights under the law and outline the best course of action, considering the nature and specifics of your case.

Negotiating with vehicle manufacturers and dealerships is also a task that falls under a Lemon Law attorney. They can manage communication on your behalf, aiming to reach a settlement that might include vehicle replacement, refund, or compensation for your losses and inconveniences.

If negotiations aren’t successful, your attorney can prepare and file a formal lemon law claim against the manufacturer or dealership instead of you. They’ll handle all legal filings, adhere to deadlines, and ensure your claim is properly presented.

If your case goes to arbitration or court, a lemon law attorney will represent you throughout the process, advocating on your behalf.

After the trial, an attorney can assess any settlement offers from the manufacturer or dealership, making sure the terms are fair and meet your best interests.

Many lemon law attorneys work on a contingency basis, meaning they only get paid if you win your case. Additionally, many state lemon laws include provisions that the manufacturer must pay attorney fees or other legal fees if the consumer prevails, reducing the financial burden on you.

Next steps to Take If Your Dealership Has Had Your Car for 30 days

Before you take any action, you need to understand the terms of your warranty and the provisions of Lemon law so you can make an informed decision. In most cases, reaching out to your dealership or manufacturer can help expedite the repair process.

If you cannot resolve the issue with the dealership or your car is a lemon, do not hesitate to consult our lemon law attorneys at The Lemon Pros to help you get appropriate compensation under California Lemon law. Book a free consultation with us today for a free case review.

Call us today for a free consultation before time runs out to pursue your claim.

Phone: (800) 917-7147


Why Choose The Lemon Pros?

Our specialty is Lemon Law, that is why we only handle Lemon Law claims. When you hire us, our attorneys will do all the legal work for you, because we understand the stress that consumers like you deal with when they have a Lemon.

We have an excellent success record in representing consumers just like you! We are award winning attorneys, but that has not gotten to our heads. We are attorneys who care and give personalized attention to each and every client, our attorneys directly handle your claim.

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