How To File a Lemon Law Claim in California?

How To File a Lemon Law Claim To Maximize Compensation?

California’s lemon law protects consumers from new and used defective vehicles. These regulations are in place to provide compensation to buyers and ensure they aren’t stuck driving a lemon. To get started on your lemon law claim, you want to know each step and how to execute it. To navigate a successful lemon law claim, you must first ensure your vehicle qualifies for compensation. You must also ensure that your lemon law case follows the appropriate chain of steps, or else you could miss out on winning.

The average lemon law settlement is typically between $5,000 and $100,000, depending on what type of vehicle you drive, the severity of the defects and whether or not you have an experienced lemon law attorney on your side.

Contact professional lemon law lawyers to steer the claim in the right direction. Our team of attorneys has helped maximize the payout for thousands of clients and we are ready to help you too. Join us for a free lemon law Consultation to better understand your rights.

Throughout this guide, we share with you the proper ways to file a lemon law claim and show you how to maximize the payout.

What Are California Lemon Laws?

What Are California Lemon Laws?

Lemon law, known as the Song-Beverly Consumer Warranty Act, offers recourse for buyers of defective vehicles. California lemon law gives consumers a remedy if their vehicle continues failing to meet certain quality standards. In California, there’s also the Tanner Consumer Protection Act (California Civil Code Section 1793.22) that provides further supplementation and definition about how many repair attempts need to be made for lemon laws to apply.

Thankfully, the laws in California ensure the consumer is protected. The Center for Auto Safety has looked at every state’s lemon laws to determine how each ranks. In that study, it was determined that California’s lemon law exceeds that of other states because used cars received protection and there are provisions for small businesses to file claims. Additionally, California (along with Wisconsin, Oregon, and North Carolina) all come out on top for earning double to triple the damages for violations.

California lemon law is designed with the consumer in mind, but there are still a lot of things that could go wrong with a claim that removes your option for compensation. For that reason, don’t attempt filing lemon law claims without an experienced attorney.

What Is a Lemon Car?

What Is a Lemon Car?

A lemon car is a vehicle with significant defects that persist even after multiple repair attempts. California’s lemon law applies to new vehicles purchased or leased in California, still covered by the manufacturer’s warranty. There are also stipulations applicable for used cars if they come with a warranty. These protections include cars, trucks, SUVs, boats, motorcycles, chassis, chassis cabs, motorhome drivetrains, dealer-owned vehicles, and demonstrators.

Most importantly, applicable vehicles must have a defect that impairs their safety, use, or value. While there’s a wide range of potential issues, here are some examples of the top problems covered by lemon law:

Defects that prevent the consumer from having reliable and safe transportation: Braking performance, issues with the advanced safety systems, and airbag troubles are all included in this section. If your safety is at risk, whether or not the issue is life-threatening, the car can be considered a lemon.

Defects reducing the overall value of the vehicle: Not all problems are as serious as others, but they could still qualify. For example, if the air conditioner doesn’t work or the paint is peeling, there’s going to be a significant hit to the resale value, thereby qualifying it as a lemon.

Defects that prevent proper performance of the vehicle: Engine trouble and powertrain malfunctions are going to fall in this category. For example, if the car doesn’t shift properly, overheats, or loses power, it may be considered a lemon.

What Qualifies as a Lemon?

What Qualifies as a Lemon?

As mentioned, a vehicle qualifies as a lemon if it has significant defects impairing its safety, value, or utility. To file a California lemon law claim, the vehicle must be new, either purchased or leased, and still within the manufacturer’s or extended warranty coverage term.

The defects must be covered under the warranty and be unrepairable. For it to be considered unrepairable, the service center must have exceeded the time given to fix the issues. In general, the dealership has thirty days to repair your car, but that time is counted across multiple visits for the same problem.

Here is a summary of some of the criteria for claiming a lemon car:

  • The manufacturer’s warranty must cover the issue. Any non-warranty complaints aren’t eligible for a lemon law claim in California.
  • The vehicle must be at an authorized repair center per the warranty procedures.
  • An authorized repair facility or dealership must document the attempt with a service invoice or repair order. This documentation must include the visit date, the reported issue, and any actions taken to diagnose/repair the problem.
  • Issues must significantly affect the use, value, or safety of the vehicle. Therefore, some minor problems may not be covered.
  • A reasonable number of repair attempts must be made. While this amount varies, there should be at least two attempts for serious safety concerns or four for most other defects.

Additionally, lemon law cases only cover defects within the first 18 months of ownership or before the warranty expires, whichever comes first. For this reason, if the dealership has had your car for a month while working on the same problem, it’s time to speak with a California lemon lawyer about your rights.

How To File Lemon Law in California?

How To File Lemon Law in California?

To begin filing your lemon law claim, you must first gather all the necessary documentation. When you consult with our law offices, we are going to encourage you to have the following information on hand for the claim:

  • Vehicle purchase or lease agreement
  • Repair records
  • Any communication with the dealer or manufacturer

All of this documentation should include the name of the person you dealt with, the date, and any other information that would be important to the case. As we help you through the lemon law process, we will guide you to have the necessary paperwork for a successful claim.

The more organized you can be with these documents, the better your chances of getting the maximum compensation. We recommend keeping all of the documents in one place, where they are easily accessible. Because your claim may not be filed until a later date, you should keep the documentation in chronological order; allowing you to keep the facts straight when talking with your lawyer, the manufacturer, or a judge.

Considering that you have four years from the start of the defect to file a lemon law claim in California, you may have a lot of paperwork to store. This time may start counting down when the first repair attempt is made, but we recommend acting far before the four-year window. It’s important to show the urgency in the matter by filing with lemon law experts as soon as you can.

What Are the Requirements To File Lemon Law Claims?

Before there can be a lemon law hearing, all efforts must have been made to repair the vehicle. This statute doesn’t mean that the dealership or manufacturer has as many tries as they want.

While there are varying factors involved, a reasonable number of repair attempts can mean several things, depending on the situation. If there’s a safety issue present, there only need to be two multiple repair attempts before you are permitted to file a lemon law case. If the vehicle’s defects aren’t related to safety, the law requires a minimum of four attempts for the same issue, as long as the dealer hasn’t had the car for more than thirty days.

But, what counts as a repair attempt? Any time the consumer presents a defective vehicle to the authorized repair center for service, a repair attempt has occurred. Even if the dealer can’t duplicate the problem and experience what you do or says there is no problem, this visit counts as a repair attempt.

For example, let’s say you bring your vehicle to the dealership four times because the air conditioner doesn’t always blow cold. Even if the issue can’t be duplicated by the dealership all four times, these all count as repair attempts. You’ve tried to have the dealership repair it and that’s what counts.

How To File for a Lemon Case?

How To File for a Lemon Case?

If you believe that you have a lemon law case, it’s time to take action. Our step-by-step guide can help you get started.

First, gather all of the documents related to the case. You will need the repair orders and other documents that show you communicated with the authorized repair center or manufacturer.

After this, you need to send a notification letter to the manufacturer. Consumer Affairs offers a great template for a sample letter to send. The goal is to simply state that the warranty contract has been breached and that you want a refund under the Lemon Law buyback or a replacement vehicle for the new car.

For all of these steps, it’s best to have a free case evaluation with a qualified attorney. Otherwise, you may not get the response you hoped for. Demand letters also tend to have better results when coming from a lawyer.

Dealing with Denials

Some of the most common reasons for a lemon law case to be denied include the following:

  • Lack of documentation
  • Failure to notify the manufacturer
  • Ignoring the terms of the manufacturer’s warranty
  • Missing some of the Lemon law criteria, such as how many times the vehicle has been in for repair
  • Not hiring an attorney to make a strong case for you

Thankfully, even if you receive a denial letter, there are still options for appealing the case. Many consumers believe it is over at this point, but a qualified attorney can give you the next steps. You still have a right to file complaints with the California Department of Motor Vehicles, the state attorney general, and other consumer affairs companies.

What Happens After Filing a Lemon Case?

What Happens After Filing a Lemon Case?

After proving that the vehicle’s repairs can’t be fixed, the manufacturer usually has several options to choose from. Most people hope to get a refund for the defective vehicle. This refund is usually determined by the purchase price and other initial costs minus a deduction for the time it was used.

There’s also the option to get a replacement vehicle that is of the same or greater value than the existing car. This new vehicle must be free of the same defects, or lemon law applies to it as well.

Finally, there’s the option to keep the vehicle and receive a payout for the trouble. This is only a viable option if you are going to be able to live with the problem and won’t want to file any further claims in the future.

How Long Does a Lemon Law Claim Take in California?

Depending upon the circumstances of your car, the lemon law timeline could be several months long. If all goes well and the manufacturer agrees with the information in the demand letter, the timeframe should be shorter. However, this isn’t a common occurrence. Instead, you may need a neutral third party or arbitrator to hear the case. The longest option is to go to court and let a judge decide.

Do You Need a Lemon Law Attorney To Win a Case?

Do You Need a Lemon Law Attorney To Win a Case?

While it’s not required to have an attorney for a lemon law case, it’s in your best interests to have legal representation. We recommend hiring an attorney at the beginning of the process, even just to give you better guidance for the next steps.

To find a qualified attorney in California, look for one that has won many cases because you want the maximum amount of compensation. We recommend reading online reviews and checking the Better Business Bureau. You’ll see that the Lemon Pros have an A+ rating with the BBB and superior customer reviews, proving the firm is a great option.

How Much Does an Experienced Lemon Law Attorney Cost?

If you are holding off hiring an attorney because you are worried about the cost of a lemon law lawyer, there’s no reason to wait any longer. Your consultation with our firm is free, and we can have the manufacturer pay all of your legal fees. We only get paid if you do, so we work much harder for your compensation.

How To Successfully File a Lemon Law Claim?

Many mistakes can be made when attempting to file a lemon law case without a lawyer. It’s important to know your rights and the steps that are required for compensation. Otherwise, you could end up with nothing but a lemon car.

If you own a vehicle with unrepairable damage that should be covered by the warranty, it’s time to take action. The sooner you get started, the sooner you can be free of this lemon.

Contact a lemon car lawyer in California today to learn about your rights. We’ve worked with thousands of other clients who have received more compensation than they initially thought they would get. During your free lemon law consultation, we can show you what you may be entitled to.

It’s time to let the best of the best work for you. Visit our Lemon Law Attorney Practice in Beverly Hills today.

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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