The lemon law is designed to protect consumers who have purchased cars that are not working as they should. Car purchases are often very high-pressure situations, so the government provides extra safeguards for consumers who get stuck with one of these major purchases that is not safe or reliable. There are both federal and California lemon laws, and they can be confusing, so never hesitate to consult with a lawyer who handles lemon law claims.
The California Lemon Law is a section Cars come with manufacturer’s warranties (generally up to 60,000 miles or three years). Additionally, dealerships may include 30-day warranties on some automobile purchases. You can also buy an extended warranty when you purchase the car for extra coverage. In order for the lemon law to apply to your situation, your car must be under at least one of these warranties. To stand up in court, your warranty must be in writing. If this is the case, you may be able to get a refund or to exchange your “lemon” for another car.
If you have taken your car in to get something repaired under warranty and that same problem persists, this is when you become a candidate for the lemon law. Depending on different factors, if something has been repaired at least two (sometimes three or four) times, and the problem persists, then the car is considered a “lemon.” Cars may also be considered to be lemons if they have multiple defects or continual, ongoing problems (so it is not always necessary that one defect is “unrepairable”) it is these many nuances of the lemon law that cause confusion.
Federal lemon laws are generally the easiest ones to qualify for. The federal law covers either new or used vehicles (to include boats, motorcycles, four-wheelers, motor homes, etc.) regardless of how many miles they have. One federal law that is particularly beneficial is the Magnuson-Moss Warranty Act.
This law tackles warranties that are poorly written, restrictive, or simply unfair. The Magnuson-Moss Warranty Act also states that the vehicle seller (or warranty provider) must pay your attorney fees if you win. The Uniform Commercial Code, another federal law, also gives car buyers the right to an exchange or refund if their under-warranty car is defective.
Although federal lemon laws tend to be more inclusive, state lemon laws generally have stiffer penalties and more ample consumer protection. Unfortunately, most state lemon laws only cover new cars and trucks–no motorcycles, boats, motorhomes, etc. Nevertheless, if your vehicle qualifies as a lemon under your state’s lemon laws, this is generally your best bet.
For example, under most state laws, your car must have the EXACT same problem repaired multiple times to no avail, such as the trunk failing to latch shut. Under federal laws, the repeated repairs only need to be related to the same issue – such as, the trunk wouldn’t latch, then after repair, the trunk will latch but now the key fob trunk button doesn’t work. After another repair, the trunk latches, and the key fob opens it, but now the latch keeps making a clicking sound as if it’s locking and unlocking itself constantly.
If you are dealing with a potential lemon, please reach out to me, the Lemon Law Lady! Before representing consumers, I handled warranty issues for car manufacturers, so I know both sides in and out. Schedule your free consultation today.