If I do qualify for the lemon law in California, what sort of compensation am I entitled to?
It depends on the specifics of your case, but you may be entitled to a full buyback or an equivalent replacement. When a manufacturer repurchases your lemon, you should receive a full refund plus the cost of legal fees and any other fees associated with your lemon. If you qualify for a replacement vehicle, the manufacturer must replace with a model that is the closest equivalent available to your lemon, offer the same service contract, and include any add-ons that you received during the original purchase.
What if my vehicle doesn’t qualify as a lemon in California?
Don’t give up just yet. Even if your warranty is no longer in effect, if your vehicle’s problems started before your warranty expired, you may still have a claim. Consumer protection laws aren’t always black and white. We specialize in this area of law and with a free evaluation, and we can tell you whether you have a claim. We often find that consumers are given misinformation when it comes to what their rights as consumers are. If you are dealing with a defective vehicle or appliance, you deserve compensation, and we can help. And remember, we always ensure that your settlement includes the cost of legal fees, so you’ll never receive a bill from us.
How Does California Lemon Law Work?
It only takes one unexpected trip to the dealership’s service center to make a person think they’ve been sold a lemon. While California Lemon Law does protect consumers from such unfortunate circumstances, there is a set of guidelines that govern how California Lemon Law works.
One way to trigger relief under the lemon law is through the California state-certified arbitration process. This is only recommended after speaking with a qualified lemon law lawyer. If a consumer decides to pursue this lemon law process, a neutral third party arbitrator will hear the case and make a determination as to whether or not a reasonable number of repair attempts have been made, as well as what form of compensation a consumer should receive. If the consumer accepts the arbitrator’s decision, the manufacturers have agreed to comply with their decision. If the consumer does not accept the arbitrator’s lemon law ruling, the consumer is still free to file a lemon law lawsuit in either state or federal court.
California Lemon Law attempts to encourage consumers to seek arbitration as a first option given the courts are so backed up. They do this by using the law to state that before consumers can use what is known as the “Lemon Law Presumption” in a California court of law, they have to first attempt to reach a decision via a manufacturer’s State-certified arbitration program. Because of this, many vehicle manufacturers have decided to seek out a certification from the California Department of Consumer Affairs’ Arbitration Certification Program in an effort to find conclusions to problems earlier in the process, avoid expensive court fees and reduce their overall liability risk.
The arbitration process is a free way for consumers to settle warranty disputes, but it can be a challenging process for someone to undertake on their own. Though the manufacturers fund the programs, under California codes and ACP law the arbitration rules and monitoring are distinct from the manufacturer to avoid irregular or inappropriate influence in determinations. Still, manufacturers have dedicated teams ready to present their case in arbitration and understand the in’s and out’s of California Car Lemon Law, giving them a distinct advantage over consumers that have to set aside time to attempt to resolve their case.
How Long Does a California Lemon Law Case Take?
Should you opt for a refund, understand that the average settlement in California should not take more than thirty days to be completed.
Is My New Car Covered Under the Lemon Law?
One of the benefits of buying a new car is that you shouldn’t have to deal with any major maintenance issues for a while after you drive it off the lot. The odometer basically reads zero, you can go longer between oil changes, and you don’t even have to get emissions testing for a few years. So the last thing you expect to be faced with is a major malfunction or defect.
If your brand new car starts acting up, it can be a major source of stress and frustration — particularly if the problem is with a major component of the vehicle such as the brakes or steering. Fortunately, new cars are typically always covered under California car lemon law because they’re likely to still be under warranty from the manufacturer, and any apparent defects are likely to show within the 18 month/18,000 mile time restriction.
The exceptions to new car coverage under the lemon law are things that aren’t covered under the car’s warranty. So while it might be annoying that the door handle falls off or the heating system isn’t as toasty as you like it, if it’s not covered under the warranty and it doesn’t pose a serious threat to safety, you might be on your own for repairs.
Always read the fine print on any documentation concerning your car warranty so you can be informed of the coverage you’ve been promised by the manufacturer. This type of knowledge will be invaluable when it comes to pursuing the lemon law for new vehicles in California.