What Is a Lemon Car in California?

What Is a Lemon Car in California?

If your ride is more sour than sweet, it may qualify for reimbursement through California lemon law. The law protects consumers from lemon cars – defective vehicles that cannot be repaired. Any new car that’s still under warranty can be eligible for a lemon law case if the manufacturer has had sufficient time to fix the defects. With so many guidelines to keep track of, knowing exactly what’s eligible for a lemon law claim can be difficult, but we are here to help. As experts in California’s lemon law, we know the ins and outs of the guidelines and can show you what you qualify for.

Contact Lemon Law Lawyers to ensure you get everything you’re entitled to. We’ve secured a replacement vehicle and monetary compensation for thousands of other California drivers. Learn more about what you can expect with a free lemon law consultation.

In this blog, we look at the specifics of lemon law and explain your responsibilities as a vehicle owner if you want to get compensated.

What Is a Lemon Car?

Lemon laws state that a car with unrepairable defects while covered by a manufacturer’s warranty may be deemed a lemon. The defect must significantly impair the vehicle’s use, safety or value to be considered a lemon. Additionally, you must have taken the vehicle to an authorized repair shop for attempted warranty repairs.

Some people believe that the defects have to be substantial for a vehicle to be considered a lemon, such as a blown engine or slipping transmission, but that’s not always the case. These instances would make for a perfect lemon law case, but so do other non-severe problems. For example, if your vehicle has corrosion that the dealer won’t repair, this issue affects the value of the vehicle, thereby qualifying it for lemon law. The same is true with an air conditioner that can’t be repaired, as this issue affects vehicle use.

Both car purchases and leases are included in the guidelines. There’s also a wide range of types of vehicles that are covered by the law. While there’s protection for a car, truck and SUV, a motorcycle and a motorhome may also qualify, as long as a warranty covers them at the time of the unrepairable defect.

What Is a Lemon Car in California – Legal Definition

Based on the Song-Beverly Consumer Warranty Act (California Lemon Law), a car is covered by lemon law when it is under the manufacturer’s warranty and has a defect that impairs its use, value or safety; therefore, the problems hinder the mechanical operation, create safety problems or lower the vehicle’s market value. According to California lemon laws, the defects must first show up within 18 months of taking possession of the vehicle, or within 18,000 miles.

While consumer advocacy groups started pushing for lemon laws in the mid-20th century, federal laws didn’t gain much traction until the Uniform Commercial Code (UCC) was set as standardized laws governing commercial business in the United States. Not long after, California adopted its own set of laws to protect consumers, starting in the 1970s. Other laws further support California’s guidelines, such as the Tanner Consumer Protection Act and the federal Magnuson Moss Warranty Act.

What Does Lemon Law Aim to Achieve?

The purpose of lemon law is to keep drivers from being stuck in a defective vehicle. Without these protections, manufacturers would be allowed to sell or lease cars that have defects, and consumers would have no recourse. Instead, lemon law holds manufacturers and dealers accountable for their actions. A qualified lemon law attorney explains your rights and helps you achieve the best outcome.

Deep Dive on the Criteria for California’s Lemon Law

The most important considerations regarding California lemon law include the manufacturer’s warranty or extended warranty coverage and the number of repair attempts. There’s also a California lemon law time limit for filing claims. Let’s dive deeper into the main considerations and the lemon law process.

Manufacturer’s Warranty

For new cars to be covered through lemon law, they must still be covered by the manufacturer’s warranty. The manufacturer’s new vehicle warranty covers purchased and leased vehicles for a specified time. The unrepairable defects must be included in the warranty coverage as well.

As far as pre-owned vehicles, there’s also coverage if the car has an extended warranty provided by the dealership. However, certified pre-owned cars may not have extended warranties but could still be covered under the original factory car warranty, allowing for coverage under lemon law.

Whether you have a new car warranty or one of the extended car warranties in California, keeping all of the original documentation when filing a claim is important. You want to be able to prove that the motor vehicle is covered for the defects you claim under California’s lemon law.

Number of Repair Attempts

Number of Repair Attempts

All lemon vehicles must first have gone through a series of attempted repairs. The number of repairs depends on the particular types of problems covered by lemon law. For example, if the issue poses a serious safety threat or can lead to a serious injury, a reasonable number of repair attempts is two. All other issues require four as the reasonable number of attempts.

While the dealership can hold your car for repair for 30 days, this time runs across all reasonable repair attempts. Therefore, if your car has been in the shop two times, each for twenty days, it could now be considered a lemon.

If you are having trouble getting your car from the repair shop, it’s time to contact a lemon lawyer.

Time and Mileage Limitations

California lemon law covers new vehicles if the issue occurs within the first 18 months of taking possession of the car or during the first 18,000 miles, whichever occurs first. While the issue must first start within this time, there is a 4-year rule, giving you four years to file the claim. This is the statute of limitations in most cases.

If fraud is involved in the case, such as a manufacturer concealing information about the defect, which prevented you from discovering it, claims may be filed later, but this is rare. For this reason, it’s important to have an experienced lemon law attorney working with you and you should file as soon as you can.

Steps To Take if You Suspect Your Car Is a Lemon in California

Steps To Take if You Suspect Your Car Is a Lemon in California

To have California lemon law apply to your situation, it’s critical to take action immediately. Lemon law attorneys help you navigate the legal process and reduce the stress of the situation, but here are some helpful tips to keep in mind.

Gather all of your records. You need the warranty paperwork and all communication regarding the attempted repairs. With each repair order, you want to record the name of anyone you spoke with and the date of the communication. Repair orders should also include the problem or issue being addressed and the resolution if there was one. Even if the dealership states they could not recreate the problem, that’s a response.

If you have concerns over how the car is being repaired or how the dealership handles it, there’s always the option to reach out to the manufacturer. Document this communication as well, writing down who you spoke with and the conversation’s outcome. All of this information will prove to be invaluable if you have to plead your case later.

California Lemon Law Claim Process

California’s lemon laws require specific steps before any claim can be filed.

Send a demand letter to the manufacturer: California lemon laws mandate that a letter be sent to the manufacturer at the start of the process. This letter needs to be professionally written and to the point. If it is written with the help of an attorney, the chances of a favorable response are higher.

Communicate and negotiate with the manufacturer: Once the manufacturer knows you are working with a lawyer, they are more likely to negotiate with you. They may suggest arbitration with a neutral third party to avoid litigation and that direction could prove to be favorable.

There’s always the chance for lemon law claims to end up in court. If it gets that far, you will want legal representation to ensure the automobile manufacturer is held responsible.

Beyond the court case and civil penalties, there are other ways to ensure that the manufacturer pays for creating defective vehicles. Your lawyer may recommend filing a complaint with the Better Business Bureau, the State Attorney General’s Office or the California Department of Motor Vehicles.

Manufacturer’s Response

Automakers have a dedicated team to deal with letters about defective motor vehicles. You will often receive standard communication back from the manufacturer about the next steps. If the issue is rampant among the model, the manufacturer may have already arranged compensation for drivers.

Some of the possible outcomes that the manufacturer may offer include the following:

  • A California Lemon law buyback where the automaker takes the vehicle back and compensates you for the purchase price, payments, sales tax and other fees
  • A replacement vehicle of equal or greater value to what you are already driving
  • Monetary compensation for the issues with the caveat that you keep the vehicle
  • Nothing – there’s always the chance that the manufacturer is not willing to do absolutely anything

Arbitration and Court Proceedings with a Lemon Law Attorney

The vehicle manufacturer may offer arbitration to discuss the issue with the car. During the arbitration process, both you and a third party discuss an amicable resolution about the defective motor vehicle without the need for the court to get involved. This option can be favorable in some cases, but it’s also an area where manufacturers can take advantage of the driver if they don’t have legal representation. For this reason, you should have secured your lemon law lawyer before entering this process.

If arbitration isn’t offered, there’s always the option to go to court. While this option helps to secure compensation for the vehicles purchased or leased, it is more time-consuming than arbitration. If the vehicle qualifies as a lemon, going to court often provides a better outcome, which is why many manufacturers avoid this path.

Remedies and Compensation for a Faulty Vehicle

The average lemon law settlement in California can be between $5,000 and $100,000, depending on the situation. California lemon law applies to new and used cars, which is why there’s a wide range of compensation amounts. If the vehicle is deemed a lemon, the manufacturer may swap it out for a different model, so there’s no monetary compensation involved.

Another option is a lemon law buyback with some manufacturers. In this case, the manufacturer is going to pay you to get out of the vehicle, but it would need to be returned. A refund amount will be determined by the costs you’ve already paid, how much you’ve used the vehicle and other costs you’ve incurred.

With some lemon law disputes, there’s additional compensation available for other expenses. For example, along with the purchase price, you may need to recoup the sales tax and registration fees. If you had to pay for a car rental while your vehicle was in the shop, you shouldn’t be liable for these expenses either. California law also requires that the vehicle manufacturers pay for any applicable attorney fees.

The lemon vehicle may have a defect that you can live with. In that case, the manufacturer may offer to give you some monetary compensation and let you keep the car. However, you won’t be able to get any more lemon law work or the car covered for the same problem you received compensation for.

Want To Know if Your Car Qualifies as a Lemon?

Lemon law presumes that there’s an unrepairable defect with your new or used car. State and federal law protections ensure that consumers don’t get stuck with a lemon, but the regulations can be tricky to navigate alone. For that reason, it’s essential to have an experienced lawyer on your side.

Contact a lemon car lawyer in California to file a claim. With years of experience and a solid track record of earning compensation for our clients, we know how to get you everything you deserve. You can find out what you might be owed with your free lemon law consultation.

It’s time to get a lemon law buyback from the manufacturer. Work with the premier Lemon Law Attorney Practice in Beverly Hills.

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

Phone: (800) 917-7147

Email: info@thelemonpros.com

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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