What is the Lemon Law in California?

Lemon laws are a set of laws in the United States that provide protections to consumers who have purchased a defective good. Lemon laws most frequently apply to vehicles — personal use cars, boats, planes, RVs, motorcycles, etc., that experience persistent mechanical issues while still under warranty. The details of lemon laws vary from state to state, but the overall purpose of these laws are the same: to fairly compensate consumers who have spent time and money on a defective vehicle.

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What are the California Lemon Law Qualifications?

To qualify for California Lemon Law:

  • You must have a new or used vehicle that has been sold or leased in the state of California with a manufacturer’s warranty. This includes cars, pickup trucks, vans and SUVs.  The California lemon law even applies to dealer-owned vehicles and demonstrators. Further, vehicles purchased or leased for either business or personal can qualify for relief under the California lemon law guidelines.
  • To qualify for California Lemon Law, you must be familiar with the vehicle manufacturer’s warranty on the vehicle, as the law applies only to repairs made during the duration of the original warranty period. The law is guided by a 1970 protection bill, known as the Song-Beverly Consumer Warranty Act.
  • Your vehicle’s issues are such that they could cause death or bodily harm, the car has been in for repair two or more times, and the manufacturer has been notified of need for the repairs.
  • The car been in for repairs four or more times and the manufacturer has been notified of the need for repairs.
  • The issue has caused your car to be out of service for more than 30 days since your car was purchased.

What Is A Lemon Repair Attempt for Cars?

Generally speaking, you’ll need to take your car into the manufacturer’s authorized repair facility in order to be fixed — which usually means the car dealership you purchased the car from, or other car dealerships for your type of vehicle. Even if the dealership can’t remedy the problem, it’s still considered a repair attempt. But if you’re suffering from an intermittent problem that the dealership can’t pin down, you may need to take the car in more than two or four times.

Each time you take the car in, make sure you get paperwork that details the date you took the car in, what was wrong with it, the odometer reading, the diagnosis, what (if any) repairs were made, and the date you got your car back. Having this documentation will be incredibly important if you do need to pursue a lemon law case.

Song-Beverly Act’s California Lemon Law Guidelines

Within the Song-Beverly Act, there are California lemon law guidelines used to qualify a “lemon” vehicle. It is presumed that if the following criteria are attained within 18 months of delivery of the vehicle to the buyer or lessee, or 18,000 miles on the odometer (whichever comes first), the vehicle is a “lemon” and the consumer is entitled to a refund or replacement vehicle:

  • The manufacturer or dealership has made two or more attempts to repair the warranty problem that could potentially lead to injury or death when the vehicle is operated;
  • The manufacturer or dealership have made four or more attempts to repair the same warranty problem;
  • The problem in question is covered by the warranty and could radically reduce the vehicle’s use, value or safety;
  • If stated in the warranty, the consumer must directly notify the manufacturer about the issue in writing, sent to the address shown in the warranty.

Should your vehicle fall under these parameters, you may be entitled under the Song-Beverly Act or California Lemon Law to pursue legal recourse and receive a refund or vehicle replacement or some type of cash compensation.

What if my California vehicle is no longer under warranty?

You may still be entitled to compensation. It depends on many factors, including when you started to receive repairs on your vehicle. If your vehicle first started experiencing issues while it was still under warranty, it is possible that you are eligible for a buyback or replacement. Because the intricacies of these laws are complicated, it’s smart to reach out to an experienced lemon law lawyer regarding your circumstances. We offer free evaluations and are happy to answer any questions you may have about your current lemon situation.

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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.

Do You Have A Lemon Car Made In 2016 or Newer?

At Lemon Law Now, we specialize in the handling of California Lemon Cars that were made in 2016 or newer. We know that special feeling you get when you purchase a new car and how upsetting it can be when you have to continually bring that car into the shop for repairs. As big of an investment a new car is (especially cars made in 2016 or newer), your expectations of the car will always be sky high. But when those expectations come down after you realize you bought a lemon car, Lemon Law Now will be here to help you out in your time of need.

Don’t let your lemon car’s manufacturer get the best of you. Whether it be a Ford Lemon, a Mercedes Lemon, a BMW lemon or any other type of manufacturer, Lemon Law Now is here to provide the guidance you need to ensure that the California Lemon Law works in your favor. We have years of experience working the California Lemon Law for new cars and getting our clients the results in their lemon cases that they deserve such as a lemon law buyback or monetary compensation.

Common California Lemon Car Manufacturers

 

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What do the California Car Lemon Laws Do?

California car lemon laws specifically protect consumers that have purchased or leased a new or used vehicle that is under warranty. The California lemon laws don’t just remedy the situation for the consumer by providing them with a new vehicle or refund; the consumer’s incidental financial costs incurred must be covered as well, which is typically where arbitration comes into play. Just as well, an experienced lemon law attorney will be able to provide a more nuanced determination as to whether or not your vehicle was repaired an adequate number of times, or if the dealership had long enough to address the repairs. In the most general terms, manufacturer problems that relate to the safety of the vehicle, particularly those that are detailed in ongoing recall reports, require fewer attempts and less time for the consumer to address the proceeding as a lemon law case.

The California car lemon laws and other manufactured goods state that the manufacturer is required by law to do all of the following:

  • In the event of a manufacturing error, the manufacturer provides consumers with adequate repair facilities locally within their state that can be accessed without difficulty to the consumer 
  • When repairs are initiated, the manufacturer does not take longer than thirty days to complete the repairs
  • Only take a set number of attempts to correct the defective product for the consumer
  • Should the manufacturer not be able to correct the error within the aforementioned attempts or time frame, they should then offer the consumer a replacement product or refund the amount paid, minus any value use or additional costs to the consumer (such as tags, taxes, financing fees, rentals, towing or repair fees)
  • Should the lemon law case proceed to arbitration, the manufacturer should be responsible for the consumer’s attorney fees

A consumer must be able to prove at least one of the above criteria in a court of law for a judge to presume your vehicle a lemon. However, even if your vehicle does seemingly meet these requirements, manufacturers have the opportunity to fight against this, which is why it’s important to have an experienced lawyer on your side. Even if you don’t think your car qualifies under California lemon law presumption, reach out to us today. You may still be eligible for compensation.

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Available Remedies

There are a few available remedy options when it comes to your outcomes with a California Lemon Lawyer. More often than not, these remedy options are refund or replacement. 

Refund

Individuals or businesses pursuing legal remedies through California’s Lemon Law are entitled to a refund of almost all of the money paid for the defective car. This typically includes the down payment, monthly payments, and any other cost associated with purchasing the car. These additional costs can range from shipping and taxes at the cars purchase, to repair fees, rental fees, or any other costs incurred as a result of it being a lemon. 

Replacement

The other available remedy option, replacement, includes having the vehicle replaced by the manufacturer at no additional cost to them. Under a Lemon Law claim, this car will be a similarly equipped vehicle without any of the defects of the previous car. In addition to the replacement of the car, the manufacturer will also pay for the taxes and fees that may be associated with this transaction. The one caveat of this remedy option is that it must be agreed upon by both parties, meaning both the wronged customer and the manufacturer must agree on a replacement as a remedy.  

 

Understanding Use Reduction

When pursuing replacement or repurchase of a car through a California Lemon Lawyer, the retributions given would be identical to the vehicle presented. In simple terms, a manufacturer is not responsible for crediting a car owner for any use or wear on the car prior to the first service attempt. This is known as a use reduction based on how much the car was used since the original purchase. This use reduction is based on a formula revolving around the number of miled that have been put on the vehicle up until the time you contacted the manufacturer for repairs and retributions. This will formulate the amount of user reduction to come to a fair valuation of the car in question for replacement of repurchase. 

The use reduction formula can be expressed as: 

(Odometer Reading at first repair / 120,000) x purchase price of the car = user reduction

 

How a California Lemon Lawyer Can Help in the Process

California Lemon Law is not a simple thing and pursuing fair retributions is anything but an easy process. It is an intricate system with numerous facets, rules, and guidelines that are essential to know and follow. If you feel you are entitled to retribution under the California Lemon Law, we highly recommend trusting our highly-trained, expert team of California Lemon Lawyers. The dealers know exactly what they are dealing with, but our California Lemon Lawyers know more. Leave it to us to know the ins and outs of California Lemon Law, and get you the fair and just retributions that you deserve. 

 

What Qualities Should You Look For in a California Lemon Law Attorney?

When looking for the right California Lemon Lawyer, it is important to choose someone with all of the right qualifications and requirements. Here are just a few of the many attributes that make our team of California Lemon Law attorneys the best for the job:

 

Consumer Rights and its Application to California Lemon Law

Lemon laws, in California or elsewhere, are designed to protect consumers from products that may be defective, providing monetary compensation for such instances. The variety of consumer rights available to protect consumers are designed to grant monetary compensation for faulty goods, including providing a right to a number of solutions for an ongoing lemon law problem, such as:

  • Repurchase by the dealership or manufacturer of the faulty vehicle (refunding the amount paid for the vehicle less any “trouble-free” usage, noted as the mileage that the vehicle was driven prior to the first report of issues)
  • Replacement of the lemon vehicle with a similar vehicle (with consumer rights dictating that the consumer must approve of any replacement vehicle prior to it being agreed upon)
  • Cash settlement for other fees incurred and damages suffered
  • Attorney fees for arbitration in lemon law proceedings

Should a manufacturer not be living up to their end of the law as it applies to the terms of California lemon law, you should understand that you have all of the aforementioned rights as a consumer to remedy the situation. Manufacturers are beholden to a number of consumer protection acts, dependent on the state that the proceeding occurs in, and through these the consumer is able to secure restitution through legal means.

I have a lemon but I don’t live in California. Can Shainfeld Law still help me?

Yes. Although we’re based in California, we’re experts in lemon law in any part of the United States. If you’re interested in learning more about what we can do for you, give our Los Angeles office a call today. We offer free consultations and are happy to walk you through the steps of the lemon law process.

Not Finding What You Need for Your California Lemon Law Issues?

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888-567-2279

113 N. San Vicente Blvd., 2nd Floor,
Beverly Hills, CA 90211

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