Owning a lemon vehicle is like being in a bad business relationship—no matter how much time and money you inject, it never gets any better.
The frustrations of a lemon are endless. For instance, you can be psyched up and ready to drive to an important meeting, then boom, your car fails to ignite. You’re forced to hire an Uber, an unbudgeted expense, or cancel the appointment.
Worse still, a lemon can often be a safety hazard.
Many consumers have sustained severe injuries or died after airbags failed to deploy in an accident. In other instances, vehicles with substantial defects unexpectedly stall on the road leading to fatal accidents.
Fortunately, lemon laws protect consumers who accidentally buy defective vehicles through refunds and buybacks. If you’re looking for a seamless refund or buyback process, consider working with a California lemon law attorney.
California Lemon laws— Civil Code 1793.2— protects consumers who buy defective vehicles that cannot be repaired after a reasonable number of attempts. The Lemon law applies to new or used cars bought or leased in California that are still under the manufacturer’s new vehicle warranty.
While the general rule requires vehicles bought in California, members of the armed forces on full-time active duty are exempted. Therefore, any new or used car that they buy outside California is also covered by lemon laws.
It’s also worth noting that subsequent owners who buy used vehicles with existing new vehicle warranties are also covered.
California lemon laws cover many types of vehicles, including cars, pick-up trucks, vans, SUVs, and motorcycles.
The law also applies to the following types of vehicles;
More importantly, if the dealer or manufacturer can’t fix the defect in your vehicle after a reasonable number of attempts, the manufacturer must either refund the buying price or replace the car.
Under lemon laws, a manufacturer must offer a refund or replacement if they fail to repair a vehicle with substantial defects after a ‘reasonable number of repair attempts.’
No set number determines ‘’a reasonable number of repair attempts.’’ Nonetheless, California’s Lemon Law presumption contains a few guidelines establishing whether a dealer or manufacturer has made ‘‘a reasonable number of repair attempts.’’
Here’s the list;
A substantial defect is a common term used to describe lemons. For a vehicle to qualify for a lemon law claim, it should have a significant defect that affects its use, value, and safety.
It means a car doesn’t have to be entirely undrivable to qualify as a lemon; instead, it should have a substantial defect.
Here’s what the different defects mean;
A defective vehicle must impair its use in some way to qualify for a lemon law claim. For instance, if you bought a pick-up truck intending to use it in your electrical repair and installation job.
However, the vehicle develops acceleration defects that make it impossible to drive for long distances. Although the vehicle works perfectly within the town, the inability to move for long distances is a form of impaired vehicle use.
Impaired vehicle value is not all about its cash value— it can mean you perceive it as less valuable, making it a lemon. If your brand new Nissan Altima develops acceleration problems, it could be a source of nuisance.
Its frequent jerking, hesitation, reduced fuel economy, or surging can put you off. The vehicle gradually shifts from a source of convenience to an embarrassment making you use it less often.
Any defect that endangers the life of a driver or a passenger qualifies as a substantial malfunction. Some of the common significant defects that endanger the life of drivers and passengers include brake failure, electrical malfunction, defective airbags, and broken seat belts.
Substantial defects that Lemon laws do not cover Include;
Any legal case, including a lemon law claim, is more robust when backed with solid evidence and documentation. Once you notice that you own a defective car, keeping documentation in a file is a good idea to simplify claim processing.
Below is a list of relevant documentation for a lemon law claim;
A repair order is a document that the dealership hands you after dropping your vehicle off for repairs. It is an essential document that describes the vehicle you brought in for repairs, the problem that requires it to be fixed, and the mileage at the time you brought it in. Ensure it correctly describes the vehicle mileage, date, and defect.
If the dealer has previously dealt with the warranty repair, remind them to note it instead of recording it as a new problem.
A repair invoice is a document that the repair facility hands you after picking up your vehicle. It is similar to the repair order as it describes the repairs the dealership has attempted and a detailed description of the problem.
Ensure it accurately lists vehicle defects, repairs completed, mileage, and the cost of repairs.
You’ll also need the manufacturer’s warranty included in the owner’s manual, usually given to you after buying the vehicle. The warranty booklet contains the manufacturer’s express warranty with terms, conditions, and duration.
If you cannot get a refund or replacement using lemon laws, you can rely on the manufacturer’s warranty to sue for a refund or replacement.
You’ll need an original purchase or lease document as proof of ownership or vested interest in the vehicle. The documentation includes crucial information about your date of sale, cost of the vehicle, after-market purchase, and any item added after market.
Other valuable documentation to your claim includes;
Usually, some manufacturers require consumers to file claims through the National Center for Dispute Settlement (NCDS). A lemon law attorney can help file a claim to such an agency and follow up on the progress.
Once the manufacturer, through the agency, finds that the lemon case is worthy, an attorney can look to enforce a decision. Usually, agency decisions don’t bind any party; therefore, a consumer has the right to file a lawsuit.
If the manufacturer fails to settle in pre-litigation, it’s time to file a lawsuit. Fortunately, many lawyers work on a contingency basis, which means they do not require the legal fee upfront but instead deduct it from the refund proceeds.
Manufacturers do not make it easy for consumers during the claim processing— simply put, they’re not ready to write you a check because you asked for it. For instance, they push for arbitration as an affordable and quicker option.
Generally, you have a higher chance of getting a better deal with attorneys or courts than a manufacturer. Always opt for a lawyer because a manufacturer will fight tooth and nail to give you the least payout possible.
Sometimes, consumers suffer for not hiring a lemon law attorney keen on their case. As a result, they end up with low cash settlements because attorneys didn’t take enough time to study their cases.
If you win the case, the court will always compel the manufacturer to pay the legal fees. More importantly, an experienced attorney can quickly evaluate if your case has substantial grounds to avoid incurring unnecessary legal fees.
A lemon law vehicle can drain your finances. If the car is with a dealer for repairs, you need an alternative means of transport, which is expensive. On the other hand, a sudden breakdown translates to disruption of plans and inconveniences.
Considering the magnitude of loss and inconvenience associated with lemons, your case deserves the best representation to increase your chances of success.
At LemonLaw123, we have a knowledgeable and experienced attorney who settles 99% of lemon cases without going to trial.
Contact us online or call us at 657.529.5239 for a free case review.