San Diego Lemon Law Lawyer

Skilled San Diego Lemon Law Attorney Serving Clients in California

A man in San Diego, CA upset about his certified pre-owned lemon vehicle.Nearly three million motor vehicles are registered in San Diego County – about one for each resident. Naturally, the San Diego auto industry rakes in billions of dollars annually. There are two main ways for an auto buyer to get cheated – by buying a lemon, and by auto dealer fraud. In both cases, consumer protection law provides you with a remedy – in theory, at least.

When you are cheated in this manner, you have a civil claim against the vehicle manufacturer or the auto dealer – a lemon law claim against the manufacturer if your car is defective, and an auto dealer fraud claim against the auto dealership if you were defrauded.  A legal claim, however, is little better than an I.O.U. written on a piece of notebook paper, unless you have the means to enforce your claim.

Enforcement is the Hard Part

Enforcing one of these claims at trial is not like going to small claims court – you’ll have to master complex rules of evidence and civil procedure just to give yourself a decent shot at justice. Of course, you can always negotiate a settlement – but the manufacturer or the auto dealer is not likely to take you seriously unless you demonstrate the ability to win in court. That is where I come in.

Most attorneys operate “jack of all trades” practices where they handle a wide variety of cases. Right from the beginning, I decided this was not the type of practice I wanted to develop. Since 1988, I have been practicing exclusively in the areas of lemon law and auto dealer fraud. Long ago, I decided to become recognized as the foremost lemon law attorney in California.

The Lemon Law in San Diego

The lemon law, a part of the Song-Beverly Consumer Warranty Act, provides a remedy for consumers who purchase a vehicle with substantial defects that affect its use, value, or safety. The lemon law protections kick in if your dealer repeatedly fails to repair the defect. If you qualify for its protections, you can choose between a buyback of the vehicle or a replacement vehicle.

Auto Dealer Fraud Law

A lawyer talking about lemon law to his client in San Diego, CA.While the lemon law is designed to protect you against substandard vehicles, the auto dealer fraud law is designed to protect you against dishonest auto dealers. It is the process of the sale, not the condition of the vehicle, that triggers a claim. Some ways to invoke its protection include allegations of misrepresentation, deliberate concealment, and sharp business practices.

Auto dealer law provides you with the right to certain information about the vehicle and the transaction, including:

  • Any negative equity in the vehicle
  • Financing arrangements, including total interest and interest rate
  • Any previous lemon law buybacks
  • Any prior use of the vehicle
  • An accurate odometer reading
  • Prior serious accidents
  • A copy of the Buyer’s Guide
  • A copy of all transaction documents

This law also protects you against oral misrepresentations, “bait and switch” tactics, and other forms of fraud. If you purchased a certified vehicle, our legal team at our San Diego auto fraud law firm can help you understand what your options are and how best to move forward with a claim.

What My Clients Think…

The BEST Attorney for a Lemon Law Evaluation!

I retained Mr. Law for a vehicle lemon law case. I could have not been more pleased with his experience and professionalism handling my case. He gets results quickly and accurately. His staff was also outstanding. I would highly recommend contacting him and his staff for your case review. Thank You Mr. Law! — Michael, September 18, 2013

I wish I were able to give more than 5 stars to this firm!

Went into my lemon law case with no knowledge of the process. Did research and talked to a few firms about my issues with my vehicle, time frames, etc. All seemed weary, said I should wait, blah blah. I was told (from other firms) it could take over 5-6 months just for a RESPONSE of some sort from Ford (yes, I name dropped). But not Mr. Law! He took my case on and had it fully settled in LESS than 3 months! — Taylor A.

Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs)

How do I set up a claim under the lemon law?

You must take your car to the dealer for repair, and you must allow your dealer a “reasonable” number of repair attempts. Within 18 months or 18,000 miles, four unsuccessful attempts to repair the same defect or more than 30 days in the shop, can generally support a lemon law claim.

What am I entitled to if I opt for a refund?

You are entitled to:

  • Return of your down payment
  • Return of your monthly payments
  • Reimbursement of any fees (such as the registration fee)
  • Fees for rental cars necessitated by repairs
  • Cancellation of your financing loan obligations

What is the statute of limitations for a lemon law claim?

The California statute of limitations for a lemon law claim is four years after you discovered or should have discovered that you probably have a lemon law claim. If you miss the deadline, you will be unable to sue or even negotiate a private settlement. The sooner you press your claim, the better your chances will be.

What kinds of vehicles are not covered under the lemon law?

The lemon law does not cover:

  • Mobile homes
  • Off-road motorcycles such as dirt bikes
  • Large commercial vehicles owned by businesses with at least six state-registered vehicles
  • Vehicles purchased out of state

How should I proceed if I bought the car in another state?

The CA lemon law does not apply to vehicles purchased out of state. The federal lemon law applies, however, and the state in which you purchased the car may have its own lemon law.

Can I still use the lemon law if my car’s warranty has already expired?

You can if your car’s original manufacturer’s warranty was still valid at the time the repair attempts were made, even if the warranty expired before you filed your lemon law claim. I cannot emphasize enough, however, that you will greatly enhance your chances of victory by filing your claim as soon as practically possible.

Are punitive damages possible in a lemon law case?

The CA lemon law does offer “enhanced damages”, which allows up to 100 percent additional damages (a double recovery) if the manufacturer willfully failed to comply with the lemon law. Proving enhanced damages is difficult, however.

What is a “certified vehicle”?

A “certified” vehicle is a used vehicle that complies with certain California Vehicle Code quality requirements (it cannot be a lemon law buyback, for example, and it cannot have sustained frame damage). If your auto dealer represented your vehicle as certified when in fact it did not meet the requirements, you have a claim under auto dealer fraud law. Our experienced San Diego lemon law attorney can help you understand the options you have with a certified vehicle.

What is “yo-yo financing”?

Yo-yo financing occurs when your auto dealer misleads you into believing that your financing has been approved. After you drive the vehicle off the lot, its value drops immediately. The dealer later contacts you to inform you that your financing was not approved after all. This can pressure you into accepting very disadvantageous financing terms.

What’s the difference between the “money factor” and the interest rate?

The formula is Money Factor X 2,400 = Interest Rate. It is important to remember the multiplier of 2,400, so that you know what interest rate you will be paying when you finance the car.

What is “title laundering”?

Title laundering is something like money laundering. Some vehicles have “salvage” titles, which greatly reduces their value. A dealer may take a vehicle with a salvage title and re-title it in another state, to take advantage of a legal loophole that allows the “salvage” designation to disappear from the title.

Will my claim end up in court?

It might, but the great majority of lemon law and auto dealer fraud claims are settled before trial. Even after a lawsuit is filed, it is still possible to settle the lawsuit privately. Most defendants strongly prefer settlement to trial, especially when the claimant is represented by an experienced trial lawyer such as myself.

About Douglas D. Law

Over the past 30 years, Douglas D. Law has established himself as one of the top San Diego lemon law lawyer and auto dealer fraud lawyer.

  • He is rated as “Preeminent” by Martindale-Hubbell, the world’s most prestigious ranking service for lawyers.
  • He has appeared on numerous TV shows and radio programs.
  • He has testified on consumer protection issues before the California State Legislature.
  • He has been involved in several landmark consumer protection cases such as Foreman v. National R.V., Inc. and Robertson v. Fleetwood Travel Trailers of California.
  • He wins 99 percent of his clients’ cases.

The Clock is Ticking – Contact Our Qualified San Diego Lemon Law Attorney

Don’t worry about whether you think you can afford me as your San Diego lemon law lawyer. I charge no upfront fees, and my services are free of charge unless you win your case. If you think you might have a lemon law or auto dealer fraud claim in San Diego, CA, call The Law Offices of Douglas D. Law, Esq or contact me online for a free initial case consultation.

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What Our Clients Say


"Doug and Kristen were invaluable in getting GM to repurchase my Corvette due to the driveline defects in the car that Chevrolet could not fix after 9 visits. GM and the Chevy dealerships in La Mesa and Mission Valley were not helpful, giving me absurd excuses, runarounds and one time ultimately refusing to write the defects up after demonstrating them to one of their technicians. In short, I highly recommend them to handle any lemon law case you may have."

- Anonymous


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