San Diego, Californialemonlaw2019-02-01T13:51:20-07:00
San Diego Lemon Law Attorneys
Trusted San Diego Lemon Law Lawyers Serving Clients in California
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, California 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 lawyers 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 California lemon law and auto dealer fraud. Long ago, I decided to become California’s foremost lemon law attorney.
The California Lemon Law
The California 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. California 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
While the California lemon law is designed to protect you against substandard vehicles, 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.
California 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
California auto dealer fraud law also protects you against oral misrepresentations, “bait and switch” tactics and other forms of fraud. If you purchased a certified vehicle, our trusted San Diego certified pre-owned auto attorney can help you understand what your options are and how is 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:
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 California 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 California 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 California 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 California auto dealer fraud law. Our experienced San Diego certified pre-owned auto lawyer 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 California’s top lemon law and auto dealer fraud attorneys.
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.
The Clock is Ticking — Contact San Diego’s Qualified Lemon Law Attorney Douglas D. Law, Esq.
Don’t worry about whether you think you can afford a 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, California, call my office at (888)829-9033 or contact me online for a free initial case consultation.
"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."
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