Owing a lemon car is a frustrating experience. Many owners who accidentally buy lemon vehicles miss the convenience of new vehicles. For instance, a pick-up truck could stall unexpectedly, disrupting your travel plans. In addition, a lemon car causes unplanned expenses. If your car stalls away from home, you may need to find alternative accommodation, incur towing charges, or pay a rental car to proceed with the journey. Fortunately, California lemon laws were designed to protect vehicle owners who buy defective vehicles that automakers have been unable to fix. If you want a refund or replacement under lemon laws, consider working closely with an experienced California lemon law attorney.
California lemon law applies to vehicles with a manufacturer warranty that develops repair issues within 18,000 miles or 18 months, whichever comes first. After discovering the repair issue, there’s a limited window under the law to file a lemon claim. California’s statute of limitation for filing a lemon law claim is four years. Therefore, if you’re looking for a refund or replacement, you should file a claim within that prescribed time limit. When determining the window of a lemon law claim, you should understand the starting point. Most manufacturers argued that the starting point of filing a lemon law should be from the first purchase date or after the deposit payment. However, the court ruled that the four-year period starts after the latest repair, covered by the manufacturer’s warranty. More importantly, there are many considerations when calculating the four-year window. To that end, don’t wait until the last minute to file a lemon law claim.
California lemon law covers new and used vehicles with the manufacturer’s new vehicle warranty. It covers the following vehicles:
If the dealer or automaker can not repair a vehicle with a severe warranty defect after a ‘’reasonable number’’ of repair attempts, the manufacturer must either;
Before a judge or arbitrator awards a lemon law claim, they must be satisfied that the manufacturer had a reasonable opportunity to fix the vehicle. Besides protecting consumers, California lemon law requires consumers to inform automakers about persistent defects. Similarly, automakers do not have a duty to repair a vehicle whose defects they’re unaware of. Once you inform the manufacturer, you should give them a ‘’reasonable number’’ of repair attempts to fix the fault. Whether a manufacturer had a reasonable window to fix the problem depends on the severity of the circumstances of the case. For instance, a manufacturer has fewer attempts to fix a vehicle defect that endangers the safety of the driver and other vehicle occupants. On the other hand, a manufacturer has more attempts to fix a general defect that causes nuisance. Ultimately, there’s no set number for a ‘’reasonable number’’ of repair attempts. Even so, California’s lemon law presumption offers the following guidelines:
The above guidelines offer a mere direction; whether a manufacturer made a ‘’reasonable attempt’’ to repair the vehicle lies with a judge or arbitrator. The California lemon law presumption applies to vehicles that develop defects within 18,000 miles or 18 months, whichever comes first. In most lemon law cases, manufacturers argue that consumers didn’t allow them enough opportunity to fix the vehicle defect. If unrepresented, such manufacturer tactics will likely delay your lemon law claim, highlighting the need to work with an experienced attorney.
A vehicle is considered a lemon if it has substantial defects that impact its value, use, and safety. Here’s how vehicle defect impacts vehicles:
You may be entitled to a refund or a replacement if your vehicle has a persistent defect that endangers the safety of a driver and vehicle occupant. Here are a few defects that impact vehicle safety:
All vehicle owners buy vehicles intending to fulfill a specific purpose. A lemon vehicle has defects that make it challenging to achieve the intended goal. For instance, if you bought a vehicle intending to access construction sites in different states. However, a transmission defect affects the vehicle’s ability to engage higher gears. Although the truck works fine in nearby sites, albeit at low gear, it is less effective in far-flung sites. Due to the job’s demands, the construction company hires an alternative truck, increasing business costs.
Vehicle defects impact the value of a vehicle in various ways. For instance, an engine defect that makes a vehicle stall unexpectedly has a poor reputation in the market. If you decide to sell the vehicle, you will likely receive few offers, resulting in a low resale value. Similarly, a vehicle with a persistent defect depreciates faster than a unit with minimal issues. As a result, the vehicle quickly loses its book value. Besides the cash value, a defect can make a vehicle lose its value in your eyes. For instance, a vehicle with defective door knobs intermittently fails to open, causing embarrassment before your friends or family. If your vehicle has the following defects, you may be entitled to a refund or replacement under lemon laws:
Although lemon laws cover many vehicle defects, there are still a few exceptions, including:
If you purchased or leased a defective vehicle covered by the manufacturer’s warranty, you may be entitled to a refund or replacement under lemon laws. However, you must understand the steps of filing a lemon law case to increase your chances. Here are the crucial steps:
You must take your vehicle to the manufacturer’s representative to protect your rights under lemon law. You can either take it to the dealership or an authorized agent of the dealership. Once you’ve brought the matter to the dealer’s attention, you’re also supposed to give them a ‘’reasonable number’’ of repair attempts to fix the defect.
The chances of your lemon law claim depend on the strength of the evidence against the manufacturer. Here is the essential documentation for the claim:
The following documents may also help your case:
You’ll need to discuss your case with an experienced lemon law attorney at this stage. Generally, manufacturers hire experienced lemon law attorneys to represent them in consumer disputes, explaining the need to engage legal aid. First, the manufacturer will give you legal advice about your case. The lawyer will evaluate the facts of the case and give you a verdict on whether it’s worth pursuing the claim. The lawyer will also create a strong case because both parties stand to gain. You’ll provide the data, evidence, and timelines, whereas the attorney will process the information and try to develop the best approach for the case. More importantly, you don’t have to pay a lawyer to represent you. Lemon law requires manufacturers to pay the attorney fees involved in pursuing a refund or replacement once a consumer wins.
After you’ve engaged an attorney, the next step involves filing a lemon law claim. The claim should include all your evidence, including repair documentation and correspondence with the manufacturer. Fortunately, the process is easy if you are armed with an attorney to guide and represent you in any legal proceedings.
After filing the lemon law claim, the manufacturer will likely table an offer when in agreement with the request. Your attorney will evaluate the offer and negotiate for a higher amount if need be. Out-of-court negotiation is always faster and a less expensive option when compared to the judicial process. However, if the manufacturer refuses to settle or offers a less satisfactory offer, the next option involves the court. With that in mind, consider working with a knowledgeable and experienced attorney who can represent you in court or argue your case before a jury.
You cannot rely on a lemon vehicle to run errands if you’re a technician. It’ll likely develop a mechanical issue unexpectedly, which can cause you to miss project deadlines or appointments, leading to losses. With this in mind, consider working with an experienced lemon attorney during a lemon law claim to maximize your settlement. At LemonLaw123, our lead attorney, Valerie. G. Campbell has a 99% success rate, giving us an edge in lemon law cases. Contact us online or call us at 657.529.5239 to book an appointment.