Tesla is a famous brand known for its top-of-the-range Electric Vehicles. The company’s history of electric vehicles excites consumers, with cars having higher battery life and exciting features. However, some of its models do not fulfill the expectations of consumers.
For instance, consumers have raised approximately 493 NHTSA complaints about the 2021 Tesla Model Y regarding a defective forward collision avoidance component. The manufacturer has also issued several recall notices regarding the defect.
When a manufacturer issues a recall— sometimes dubbed as a buyback policy, it comes with conditions. As a result, it leaves out numerous consumers who deserve compensation for the inconvenience and expenses involved in owning a defective Tesla.
Fortunately, California lemon law protects consumers who buy defective vehicles with persistent issues that have proved challenging to solve in the hands of automakers.
If you’re stuck with a defective Tesla, consider consulting a California lemon law attorney about Tesla Buyback Policy and other legal options.
California lemon laws were enacted courtesy of the Song-Beverly Consumer Warranty Act under California Civil Code commencing section 1790. It requires that a manufacturer or its representative that cannot repair a purchased or leased vehicle conform to its written warranty after a reasonable number of attempts to repurchase or replace it promptly.
These laws are called lemon laws because “lemon” is slang for a defective vehicle.
Lemon laws apply to new and used Teslas with a manufacturer’s new vehicle warranty.
Examples of such vehicles include:
More importantly, if the dealer or manufacturer can’t fix a defect after a ‘’reasonable number of attempts,’’ the manufacturer must replace or refund the vehicle’s buying price.
So, how can you determine if Tesla has made a reasonable attempt to fix a defect in your vehicle?
In a dispute during lemon law claims, a question always arises whether a consumer gave a manufacturer a reasonable time frame or opportunity to fix the defect. A consumer should allow a manufacturer at least two attempts to fix the fault.
For instance, you don’t need to give a manufacturer more than two attempts to fix a defective brake system. Allowing many attempts risks your safety and other road users. A manufacturer is permitted four or more tries in other defects with a twist of annoyance or nuisance.
How a manufacturer addresses a vehicle defect plays a crucial role as well. For instance, if you take a vehicle for repairs and the dealer can’t duplicate the problem, you should take it up to six times to improve your chances of success while processing a claim.
In a nutshell, there is no set number for a reasonable number of repair attempts. Even so, California lemon law presumption offers the following guidelines to establish if a manufacturer has made an appropriate number of repair attempts:
Note: California lemon law presumption applies if a defect arises within 18 months of the vehicle’s lease/purchase or 18 months, whichever comes first.
A vehicle is considered a lemon if it has substantial defects impacting its value, use, and safety. Even so, California lemon laws assess the term ‘substantial’ objectively. In addition, a considerable malfunction makes a vehicle fail to conform to its manufacturer’s warranty.
Insignificant defects that annoy, e.g., a noisy windshield, may not be covered by lemon laws. In addition, lemon laws do not protect the vehicle defects caused by consumer actions. Although a fault must affect the vehicle’s value, use, and safety, it doesn’t have to be immobile to be considered a lemon.
Here is the classification of defects covered by lemon laws according to impact.
A Tesla’s malfunction has to affect the reliability and use of the vehicle to qualify for a buyback. However, it doesn’t mean the care needs to be completely undrivable. A vehicle defect can impact its use depending on its severity and type.
Here’s how a vehicle defect affects its use:
A vehicle can lose value in your eyes and potential buyers. Imagine you’ve just bought the latest Model X Plaid, and you’re the talk of your neighborhood. However, it quickly develops a problem characterized by failure to ignite. It also jerks or stalls without notice as you drive to or out of work.
In addition to being less reliable, it has lost value because it’s likely to embarrass you as you drive it down the street.
Additional ways that vehicles lose value due to defects include:
Any defect that makes the driver, vehicle occupants, and other road users less secure qualifies as a lemon vehicle. Suppose your Tesla has a battery defect that exposes the vehicle occupants to fire hazards, and the dealership has failed to repair it.
In that case, you may be eligible for a buyback.
Examples of safety defects include:
While most defects are eligible for buybacks under lemon laws, a few exceptions exist.
Here are the Tesla defects that are not eligible for buybacks:
Tesla’s buyback program was designed to protect consumers who buy premium vehicles from losing out due to a poor resale value. A typical buyer of premium Tesla models upgrades it after a few years, making resale value a vital consideration.
Under the program, Tesla calculated the resale value based on 50% of the buying price plus 43% of all value options added to the vehicle. However, Tesla recently ended the buyback program, citing cash flow constraints and the need to free up resources for other priorities.
With that in mind, Tesla’s buyback program falls short of the ability to protect consumer rights guaranteed by California lemon laws.
Fortunately, you can opt for the protection provided by California lemon laws which have better guarantees.
Here are the advantages of lemon law protection:
Ultimately, lemon law offers more lasting benefits to consumers than the Tesla Buyback Program. Therefore, you stand a better chance of compensation under lemon law than the Tesla Buyback program.
Model S, X, and Y are problematic Tesla vehicles consumers have lodged numerous complaints about. Fortunately, California lemon laws protect consumers who buy defective products that manufacturers are unable to fix after a reasonable number of attempts.
Lemon law buyback is a complex process, highlighting the need for consumers to understand all the steps involved to get their defective vehicle refunded.
Here are the crucial steps involved in the process.
Whether your Tesla has problems with its battery, charging system, or cruise control, you must take the vehicle to a dealership for repairs. Sometimes consumers delay looking for a solution that might worsen the defect or waive their buyback rights under lemon laws.
Taking your vehicle for repairs to a dealership serves various reasons. First, it gives the manufacturer a window of opportunity ‘’a reasonable number of attempts’’ to fix the defect. It also serves as a notice of the fault to the manufacturer— a consumer can only find a defect they’re aware of.
Lastly, taking your vehicle to a manufacturer reserves your rights under lemon laws. You risk voiding warranty terms if you attempt to fix the defect through Do-It-Yourself (DIY) or an independent repair shop.
Every time a consumer files a buyback claim, the question of a “reasonable number of repair attempts” arises. With that in mind, every consumer must inform the manufacturer about the defect and give them a reasonable window to fix it.
What constitutes a reasonable number of repair attempts varies under different circumstances. For instance, a manufacturer may need more attempts to fix a severe defect. The vehicle may also spend extra days in the dealership to fix the fault.
Ultimately, the guidelines established by the California lemon law presumption set the ground for determining whether a manufacturer has made a reasonable number of repair attempts.
Because the standards for determining a reasonable number of repair attempts are subjective, it’s advisable to consult a California lemon law attorney. In a dispute, whether a manufacturer has made a reasonable number of repair attempts is a decision made by a judge or arbitrator.
Proving that you provided a manufacturer with a reasonable window to fix the defect is a significant challenge while filing a lemon law claim. As such, any legal claim, including lemon law claims, is more potent when backed with evidence.
Below is a list of the most relevant documents you need to file a lemon law claim.
The more these documents you have, the easier it is to file and build a strong case against a manufacturer. Speaking to a California lemon law attorney who can help you gather proper documentation is also advisable.
You’ll need a manufacturer’s warranty, part of the documents with the owner’s manual booklet. It contains the express warranty with details of coverage and for how long. In addition to the features covered, it allocates duties to buyers, including regular maintenance such as cabin air replacement every two years.
Each warranty is unique regarding coverage and period, so the document is crucial in determining whether your Tesla was protected the first time you took it for repairs. More importantly, if you’re not eligible for a buyback under lemon laws, you can sue the manufacturer for breach of warranty terms.
The first documents your lawyers will request are the original purchase or lease contracts. These are the documents you usually receive the first time you purchase or lease a new or used Tesla.
This document verifies ownership or interest in the vehicle due for a buyback. It also provides critical information on the date of sale, vehicle cost, trade-in information, and rebates—if any. The purchase and lease documents directly impact the buyback value, highlighting the importance of including the purchase contract.
It’s also essential to include the financing documents for your auto loan.
A repair order is a document you receive after dropping off your vehicle for repairs at a dealership. It describes the car you brought in for repairs, the vehicle’s problem, and the mileage at the time you brought it in. Ensure you accurately describe the vehicle’s defect in detail so that the dealer captures it appropriately in the repair order.
If this is not the first time the vehicle has experienced the defect, let the repair order capture it as a repeat problem instead of appearing as a new issue. Ultimately, a repair order serves as a paper trail for all the problems with the vehicle and everything you attempted to have repaired.
A repair invoice is a document the repair facility gives you when you drop off your Tesla for repairs. It is similar to a repair order as it describes all repairs the dealership attempted to fix and the problems described during the drop-off.
Ensure it accurately describes the vehicle defects, completed repairs, date, mileage, and cost of repairs. Each time you take your Tesla for repairs, request a repair invoice and a repair order as part of the documents required to prove you gave a manufacturer an opportunity for a reasonable number of repair attempts.
Keep copies of the letters you sent or received from the manufacturer, dealership, or federal agency. It’s also important to write notes if anything happens to the vehicle. For instance, note the dates and details of a phone conversation with a manufacturer. If a dealership refuses to add details to your repair order, note it down.
While the above documents are crucial, you can supplement your case with additional documents such as vehicle registration, accident history, a timeline or repair attempts, and receipts of incidental expenses such as accommodation or car rental.
Once you’ve gathered a few documents, it’s time to speak with a lemon law attorney. Usually, filing a lemon law claim is a complex process highlighting the need for an expert who, in this case, is a California lemon law attorney.
Here’s how working with an attorney will boost your chances in a buyback claim:;
If the vehicle defect is valid, your attorney will file a claim or complaint against Tesla to initiate the Buyback Process. Filing a lawsuit against the manufacturer also helps assert your rights under California lemon law.
Generally, manufacturers do not accept claims immediately after a consumer makes a complaint. You must present evidence and prove your case highlighting the need to work with an experienced lemon law attorney.
If a manufacturer finds you have a valid claim, they will table the initial offer. Upon receiving the proposal, your attorney will commence negotiations. The manufacturer will settle if the negotiation efforts are successful and you’re satisfied with an improved offer.
Most experienced attorneys work with automakers to strike deals during negotiations to avoid the lengthy and time-consuming court process. However, a consumer can accept or reject the offer, highlighting the need to work with an attorney ready to aggressively fight for you in court.
If a manufacturer refuses to settle after presenting a lemon law claim, you will likely proceed to court. It’s also within your right to seek court intervention if you feel the manufacturer has tabled an insufficient offer.
A trial is a complex, lengthy, and time-consuming process, highlighting the need to work with an experienced attorney who will represent your interest in court.
When a Tesla is considered a lemon, the automaker can replace or repurchase it. The vehicle receives a branded title, meaning it will be marked as a lemon once the manufacturer buys it.
In a buyback, lemon law requires manufacturers to refund consumers the vehicle’s buying price less mileage offset. Mileage offset (usage fee) is the distance the car traveled before the first time the vehicle went in for a warranty repair.
If the vehicle was loan financed, the manufacturer must refund the consumer the entire down payment plus monthly payments.
The manufacturer must also refund attorney fees, license fees, taxes, and registration fees. An automaker must also reimburse the following incidental charges:
It might shock you if you expected to enjoy your new Tesla ride. If it turns out to be a lemon, you’ll constantly drop it in the dealership for repairs. It’ll also prove challenging to plan for personal or business trips.
That said, you deserve the best representation as you pursue a refund(buyback) from Tesla to improve your chances of success.
At LemonLaw123, we have experienced and highly knowledgeable attorneys ready to aggressively fight for your rights.
Contact us online or call us at 657.529.5239 for a free case review.