Most consumers looking to buy a car would not expect that their new vehicle would start having problems soon after they purchase it. Unfortunately material defects in a new, or used, car are common and often require filing a lemon law suit against the manufacturer of the vehicle to receive compensation. Material defects are usually the last thing a consumer is thinking about when buying a car so when the time comes to file a lemon law suit, if the consumer has not properly maintained their vehicle, he or she may not be adequately prepared to support their claim.

The most important thing that a consumer should consider when they decide to lease or buy a car is whether the vehicle comes with a manufacturer’s express written warranty. The basis of a lemon law claim is whether the manufacturer is responsible for a material defect in a vehicle that is covered under the manufacturer’s express written warranty. Consumers that lease or buy a car without a warranty have no basis for a lemon law claim.

Consumers should also prepare themselves for the chance that one repair may turn into two or more or possibly never be completely fixed. There are certain tips that consumers should follow after they lease or buy a car that may help protect them in the event of a lemon law claim. Most manufacturers provide consumers with a recommended maintenance schedule when they buy a car. Consumers should be sure to review and follow the recommended schedule to assure that the manufacturer is not able to deflect responsibility back to the consumer for a material defect. It is also important for consumers to keep a detailed record of any problem their vehicle exhibits, when the problem occurred and what was done to repair it. Each time the consumer takes their vehicle in to a manufacturer, or its agent, for a repair the consumer should note the date and time the vehicle was taken in, the location where the vehicle was taken for repairs and the name of the mechanic that worked on the defect. An accurate service record and copies of all receipts and repair orders for the maintenance performed on the consumer’s vehicle provides a solid, detailed claim should the consumer require the assistance of a lemon law attorney.

Taking proper care of a vehicle may also protect consumers against claims by a manufacturer that defects or problems with a vehicle were caused by consumer abuse. Under the California Lemon Law, warranty protection is not applicable where damage was caused by misuse or abuse of the vehicle by the consumer.