California Lemon Car Law Attorney

California Lemon Car Law

The designation “new motor vehicle” is not a trivial one. The applicability of California’s Lemon Laws depends on whether or not your vehicle will legally be considered “new” or “used” and perhaps more importantly, whether it has a warranty, or not. Even if your car is not a “new motor vehicle” by California Lemon Law standards, you may still have essentially the same protections if the vehicle came equipped with a warranty provided by the seller of the vehicle.
 

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What does the Lemon Car Law do?

In essence, it provides consumers the opportunity to get a refund on an auto purchase or a new vehicle if a car cannot be fixed after a reasonable number of repair attempts.

Does the Lemon Law apply to all repair problems?

No. The problem must substantially impair the safety, value, or use of the motor vehicle.

Does the Lemon Law apply to all vehicles?

No. It applies to “new motor vehicles”. The living quarters of a motor home, motorcycles and certain kinds of for-business vehicles may not be covered. However, Song-Beverly does have rules to protect purchasers of these other vehicles, even if the vehicles don’t specifically qualify under the Lemon Law.

The consumer get more protections if the problems occur during the first 18 months/18,000 miles

Problems must occur during the first 18 months after the buyer has received the vehicle or within the first 18,000 miles of driving the vehicle ­ whichever comes first.

That said, two important caveats apply: First, once you cross that 18,000 miles/18-month threshold, your rights don’t just vanish. If the vehicle does not conform to the car manufacturer warranty after a reasonable number of repair attempts, the vehicle may still be considered a lemon.

Can I still file a Lemon Law claim if it’s been more than 18,000 miles or 18 months since I bought the car?

Depending on the circumstances, yes. Remember, your vehicle can still be considered a lemon even if the problem started after 18 months of ownership or 18,000 miles. The key is, did the problem first occur during the warranty period. You also have four full years from when you first realized that you had a lemon vehicle to file suit.
 

What is Considered a “New” Motor Vehicle?

California Civil Code Section 1793.22 (e)(2) defines the term “new motor vehicle.” According to the statute, a “new motor vehicle” can be defined as follows:

  • A vehicle bought or used primarily for household, family, or personal reasons.
  • A vehicle that weighs under 10,000 lbs. that is used primarily for a business by one of the following entities: partnership, LLC, corporation, association, other legal entity or person.
  • NOTE: If the business or other entity owns more than five motor vehicles in California, the vehicle may not be considered a “new motor vehicle” according to 1793.22(e)(2).
  • ALSO NOTE: Vehicles that are still covered by the manufacturer’s warranty can be considered a “new motor vehicle”.

The law further refines the term new motor vehicle to include the chassis and chassis cab of a motor home but specifically excludes the following:

  • A motorcycle
  • A motor vehicle which is not registered under the vehicle code because it is operated or used exclusively off the highways

What Determines Ehether a New Car Is In Fact a Lemon?

Generally speaking, if your new car cannot be repaired after a reasonable number of attempts, it may be considered a lemon.

More specifically, within the first 18,000 miles of 18 months of owning a vehicle (whichever comes first):

  1. You identified a problem that makes the vehicle dangerous to use and you’ve tried at least twice to get it repaired by the manufacturer or by an authorized facility, and it’s still broken and dangerous, it may qualify as a lemon.
  2. If you tried unsuccessfully to repair a problem (such as a failing transmission) four or more times, the car may be considered a lemon.
  3. If your vehicle has been off the road and out of service for 30 plus days (cumulatively) due to repairs, it may be considered a lemon.

What protections do buyers of new and used cars have in California?

The Song-Beverly Consumer Warranty Act as well as the Tanner Consumer Protection Act of California, protect citizens from unscrupulous car dealers and manufacturers and provide legal means for them to get their money back or a replacement vehicle if a car has persistent and hard to repair mechanical problems that cannot be fixed after a reasonable amount of effort.

How do lemons wind up in the hands of consumers in the first place?

Typically, two things happen. First, a dealer who is eager to clear damaged products from his lot unscrupulously sells a lemon to the consumer. Number two, the manufacturer fails to recognize that a product is damaged or refuses to refund the consumer’s money or offer a fair replacement after the defect has been pointed out.
 

How do you know if you have a case under the California Lemon Law?

Given how complicated these rules can get and how difficult manufacturers can be about refunding or replacing lemons, it is in your best interest to contact an attorney who handles these matters regularly. LemonLaw123.com is standing by to help. Our practice is limited to Lemon Law cases and we can provide a free consultation to you.

Key guidelines in Determining eligibility for the Lemon Law

There are three key factors in determining eligibility under the California lemon law. While meeting these guidelines would label your car as a “lemon”, they are open to reasonable interpretation:

  1. If a manufacturer tries and fails two or more times to repair a problem that could result in serious bodily injury or death, the vehicle can be declared a lemon.
  2. If the manufacturer or an authorized agent tries to repair a problem four or more times without success, the car may be a lemon, assuming the problem substantially impairs the value, use, or safety of the car.
  3. Within the stipulated timeframe, if the vehicle is out of commission for repairs for a cumulative total of 30 days or more since the vehicle was delivered to the consumer, the vehicle can be considered a lemon.

 

Do I need to hire a lawyer to make a Lemon Law claim?

You could represent yourself, but this can be dangerous for a number of reasons. A manufacturer who does not want to cooperate with a buyback can put up a stiff defense that only experienced CA Lemon Law attorneys can navigate effectively.

By working with Attorney Valerie G. Campbell, you likely will be able to recover substantially more than you could on your own, and in a timely manner.

Manufacturers Defenses against Lemon Law claims

Some  common defenses manufacturers make against Lemon Law claims are:

      • There is nothing actually wrong with the vehicle.
      • The repair was effectively made.
      • The damage/defect is just normal wear and tear.
      • The defect does not have a “substantial” effect on the car’s safety, use, or value.

If the manufacturer fails to complete repair work or a repair shop cannot duplicate the defect, does that still count as a “repair attempt” for Lemon Law purposes?

Yes. The opportunity to repair the vehicle was there, whether they were able to fix the problem, or not.
 

Contact a California Lemon Law Attorney

If you have any questions or concerns about your vehicle, or if you would like a free and no obligation consultation about your California Lemon Law matter, call LemonLaw123.com today at 833-536-5297. Valerie G. Campbell’s 99% success track record is remarkably high for the industry, and she can answer any question you have about the California Lemon Law.

Email us through our online contact form for a free half-hour consultation (no obligation).

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Do You Have A Lemon?

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  • Free Case Review
  • Have you had multiple repair attempts?
  • Did the problem start in the first 60,000 miles?

    did you purchase the vehicle in CA?

    is your vehicle a 2017 or newer?

    did your problems start in the first 60,000 miles?

    have you taken your vehicle to the dealer at least 2 times, or for one visit that lasted over a month?

    It sounds like your vehicle may not qualify for CA Lemon Law.Thank you for your inquiry. For more information about CA Lemon Law see our FAQ page here.

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