What Are a Consumer’s Rights under California’s Lemon Law? Could You Get Compensation
If you purchased a new or used vehicle with a warranty and now you have experienced numerous repairs and defects that won’t stop, you might be the victim of a lemon purchase. This means you could receive compensation under CA’s Lemon Law.
Compensation you might qualify for includes:
- A complete purchase refund (including registration fees, downpayment, and financing costs)
- Receiving replacement value of the vehicle from the manufacturer
- Having the full balance of your loan/lease paid off
You might qualify for compensation under California’s Lemon Law if:
Substantial Defects are Present – A substantial defect is one that your warranty might cover (if the car is new), but that defect is so extensive it devalues your vehicle too much or poses a significant risk to safety. A minor defect is not a substantial one, such as a broken door handle. In some cases, paint and exterior coating defects are substantial – depending on the extent.
Vehicle Is Not Repaired after Multiple Attempts – You first must take your vehicle to the dealer or manufacturer and allow them to make repairs to the substantial problems. The state requires “reasonable” repairs, which depends on the defect present. When the defect involves a safety feature, such as faulty airbags, it only requires one repair attempt before it is labeled as a lemon. Also, if your car remains in the repair shop for too long, it might be classified as a lemon as well.
When your vehicle meets the above criteria, you have the right to seek compensation under the state’s Lemon Law. The process is complex, which is why you should never attempt to file a Lemon Law claim against a manufacturer alone. Instead, you need an advocate who knows the nuances of California’s laws and is prepared to fight for the compensation you deserve.
What vehicles qualify under the CA Lemon Law?
Not all vehicles qualify; instead, California has strict requirements for vehicles, and all must be sold with a manufacturer’s warranty.
Brand New – A brand-new motor vehicle with serious defects may qualify, as long as it was bought for personal, family, or household use and has a gross vehicle weight under 10,000 pounds. If under 10,000 pounds and used for business, it qualifies as long as the business does not have more than five vehicles registered.
Leased Vehicles – A lease can qualify as well, as long as the lease originated in California.
Demonstration Vehicles – Demonstration vehicles are technically used but sold with manufacturer warranties. Therefore, they qualify under the CA Lemon Law protections.
Members of the U.S. Armed Forces can still use California Lemon Law protections as long as the vehicle was purchased while they were stationed or living in the state or that they reside in the state when they file their claim.
4 Facts About the California Lemon Law
The California Lemon Law was put in place as a consumer protection measure aimed at helping car buyers who discover an unfixable problem in their vehicle. If you’ve found a problem with you vehicle that just won’t go away despite several repair attempts, the first step to take is to learn the key facts about the Lemon Law. It’s possible that you may qualify for a full purchase refund or a replacement vehicle, depending on your situation. If, after reading the following points, you think you might have a case on your hands, contact an experienced California Lemon Law attorney who can help you make your case effectively.
1. The Manufacturer Must Get a Chance to Fix the Problem
In order for your car to be considered a Lemon under the guidelines of the CA Lemon Laws, and for you to be eligible for compensation, you must first contact the manufacturer to inform them of the problem. The manufacturer must then get a chance to try and fix the problem. If they can’t fix it after a reasonable number of repair attempts, then the car can be said to be a Lemon, and you will be owed due compensation for your purchase. If you’ve done the repair attempts on your own or at an independent auto shop without informing the manufacturer about the problem, those repair attempts will not count towards your case
2. The Law Only Applies to Vehicles with an Active Warranty
The law applies only if the vehicle you bought still has a warranty. The problem must be discovered within 18 months or 18,000 miles after purchase, or within the timeframe specified by the warranty. Furthermore, if the problem you’ve identified is specifically not covered in the warranty, the Lemon Law may not apply.
3. Used and Leased Vehicles are Covered Too
Used cars, as well as new cars and leased vehicles, are covered so long as they have an active warranty. This is yet another reason to be careful when shopping for a used car. Before you trade that money in for a pink slip, ask whether the vehicle still has an active warranty, and find out what exactly the warranty covers.
4. Expect the Manufacturer to Push Back
It is common in Lemon Law cases for the manufacturer to deny the consumer’s claim. They might argue that the problem the vehicle is experiencing was a result of damages incurred during driving, in which case the Lemon Law may not apply. It’s important to keep in mind that the Lemon Law is not a set of clear cut rules but a guideline meant to help settle disputes while still giving enough room for both sides to make their argument. If you think you may have a case, call us today and consult with an experienced California Lemon Law lawyer.
- A couple purchased a sport utility vehicle that went through two sets of brake pads in 14,000 miles. The manufacturer refused to replace the second set of brake pads, claiming that the vehicle functioned as designed and that the wear on the brake pads was caused by the owners’ aggressive driving habits. The jury awarded the owners a full repurchase of the vehicle, plus $58,000 in civil penalties.
- A couple purchased a used vehicle from a used car dealership. They were told at the time of purchase that not only was the car a classic and in “great condition,” but also that the vehicle had low mileage reflected by 48,000 miles on the odometer. However, the dealership concealed that the vehicle was, in fact, in poor mechanical condition and that the odometer had been rolled-back at least once. After a three day trial, the case settled for an amount equal to three times the value of the vehicle.
- A consumer purchased a truck that suffered from a variety of defects, including premature tire wear. The manufacturer blamed the tires for the problem. A jury awarded a refund, plus a civil penalty equal to double the refund amount.
- Read more
How a Legal Team Can Help with Your Lemon Law Case
You may ask yourself why you should hire a lawyer for a Lemon Law claim and whether it is worth the cost.
While you have the right to file without legal representation, there are significant advantages to using a lawyer here. To start, you do not have experience filing claims and negotiating with manufacturers or dealerships who sold the vehicle to you. Furthermore, you may not know which evidence you need to support your claim or the filing requirements. All it takes is one error on your claim to result in a dismissal or a significant delay in completing your claim. The longer you wait, the longer you go without a working vehicle.
An experienced lawyer works as your advocate in these cases. They understand California’s Lemon Laws and they have handled hundreds of cases just like yours each year. They know the filing requirements and negotiation tactics, and they fight aggressively so that you get the compensation you need. Most importantly, you do not have to go at it alone. Instead, you have someone there to fight back alongside you, protecting your rights every step of the way.
Contact the California Lemon Law Lawyers Today
If you bought a lemon and need help dealing with the headache of a broken vehicle, you need an experienced California lemon law lawyer. The San Diego, California consumer protection attorneys at the Law Offices of Douglas D. Law, Esq. are here to help. Call us Toll Free at 1-888-829-9033, or press the BIG BLUE BUTTON below to get your free consultation!