The protective language of the lemon law was drafted by the California Legislature to safeguard consumers from manufacturers of defective vehicles. Often, consumers grappling with an out of services vehicle do not have the financial resources to hire a qualified lemon law attorney in order to get reimbursed for their auto repair costs and any other money they may have put into their vehicle. Fortunately, this section of the law contains many provisions designed specifically to assure that consumers have adequate access to legal counsel by detailing specific responsibilities that manufacturers must abide by. In particular, and in addition to requiring that manufacturers pay consumers’ legal fees, the lemon law requires manufacturers to service or repair vehicles that fail to conform to applicable express warranties.
It is essential for the success of any future lemon law claim that a consumer secures an express warranty from the manufacturer at the time the consumer purchases or leases a vehicle. Express warranties clearly outline auto repair costs that will be covered by the manufacturer and ensure that a vehicle will perform as it is supposed to. When a consumer hires a lemon law attorney and files a legal claim against the manufacturer, the consumer is asking that a court force the manufacturer to honor their express warranty provided at the time the vehicle was purchased. Without an express warranty, courts will be limited as to which manufacturer obligations they will be able to enforce.
While the manufacturer’s express warranty provides consumers with some assurance that they will have recourse for a defective vehicle, the lemon law provides further, more specific manufacturer obligations. For instance, a manufacturer’s express warranty provides that the manufacturer will fix or replace defective vehicle parts, but the lemon law requires the manufacturer, or its agent, to commence the service or auto repair within a reasonable period of time. And, unless the consumer agrees to another length of time, the auto repair or service must begin within thirty days of the consumer advising the manufacturer of the issue.
Consumers should note that they also have obligations under the lemon law. The consumer is required to return their defective vehicle to the manufacturer’s service and auto repair facility unless, due to reasons of size and weight, method of attachment, method of installation, or nature of the nonconformity, delivery to the manufacturer’s auto repair center cannot reasonably be accomplished. Should this be the case, the consumer must simply provide written notice to the manufacturer, or its auto repair facility, stating the nature of the defect.