By: Brett Shainfeld
Purchasing a new vehicle can easily be one of the more stressful things a person can do. It’s a major purchase, a significant price point in most households, and involves a lot of in’s and out’s that the average person is simply not privy to. So with that said, it’s important for new car owners to feel great about their new vehicle and get the value from it that they deserve. Nobody should be shortchanged and sold a defective vehicle, and then expected to be financially responsible for such an occurrence.
Unfortunately, lemon cars are sold every single day to unsuspecting drivers that have no idea what they’ve gotten into until days, weeks or months down the road. The familiarity with calling vehicles a lemon when they don’t perform and are in and out of the shop having work done has made it seem as though the fault of a poorly-running vehicle is on the consumer for being “duped”. What many may be unfamiliar with are the legal details of actual lemon law.
That’s right! There are legal protections set in place in the state of California and across the US that are designed to protect consumers from being financially responsible for lemon vehicles. While many consumers are left thinking that they’re out of luck with their newly-purchased lemon, that’s just not the case. Consumers have rights that protect them in the transaction of vehicle purchases.
The question then turns to, “Who is at fault when I purchase a lemon vehicle?” By now, you’re probably happy to hear that it might not be you. In fact, by way of California lemon laws and legal protections like the Song-Beverly Consumer Warranty Act, purchasers of new automobiles can feel at ease that there are numerous protections in place to ensure the security of their financial transaction and insulate from any costs associated with a lemon vehicle.
So how does all this work? Who can ultimately be held responsible in the state of California when a purchased vehicle is, in fact, a lemon? Here’s how it all works…
Clearing Up Misconceptions About California Lemon Law
First and foremost, it should be made clear that an automobile manufacturer has a responsibility to protect their customers. Motor vehicles are thought of as both an essential part in our daily lives, as well as a good that needs to comply with safety regulations to ensure driver, passenger and other vehicles’ safety on the road. When you purchase a vehicle from a dealership, they’re selling you a good that can play a vital role in your day-to-day life, and thus are beholden by such.
A vehicle manufacturer and dealer work on an implied warranty of suitability and satisfactory craftsmanship when they produce a motor vehicle. As such, they are to be considered the responsible party in circumstances where a vehicle falls under the guidelines that determine a lemon. If a company is producing a vehicle that qualifies as a lemon and malfunctions on the road, they are required to replace the vehicle or refund the entire purchase price.
It’s plain and simple, and should anyone tell you otherwise, remember your rights as a consumer. If you’re feeling pressured, or are unhappy with the direction that your conversations are going should you bring up a suspected lemon vehicle with a dealer and be met with pushback, please reach out to a qualified and experienced legal expert like Shainfeld Law to provide consultation and ensure that you receive the justice you are rightfully granted under California lemon law.
How the California Lemon Laws Work: The In’s and Out’s of the Implied Warranty
Lemon law in the state of California specifies that a few notes be hit in order to demonstrate that a manufacturer is in violation of their implied warranty. If a new vehicle has faults, the manufacturer is required by law to replace the vehicle or issue a complete purchase price refund if any of the following occur.
First, there need to be two or more attempts by a manufacturer to repair a serious issue. A serious issue is constituted by something that can lead to bodily harm or accidents in the act of vehicle operation. Furthermore, the manufacturer is required to make a replacement after four or more attempts to fix any warranty problem regardless of the severity of the issue.
If a problem puts a vehicle out of user operation for 30 or more days, this also engages the implied warranty to grant a buyback or refund. Lastly, problems that can affect the safety, use or the overall value of the vehicle fall under this law.
Typically, a manufacturer requires that vehicle owners notify them about ongoing issues to give them fair opportunity to make necessary repairs first. This is where keeping diligent records comes into play: they can serve you in the short and long term if you have to seek legal help.
It should be noted that California lemon laws do not apply to private sales, regardless as to whether or not the motor vehicle is currently under a warranty by the manufacturer. There are ways to insulate yourself from problems in those circumstances. You can have the transfer of the manufacturer’s warranty in a retail purchase, and ensure that only authorized agents are making repairs on warranty issues. Most warranties include language that states a customer will receive either a buyback or replacement if the repairs fail to resolve the issue.
Always review your warranty; don’t just toss it aside. It’s there for your protection on one of the most significant purchases you’ll make. If you feel that your implied warranty is being violated and you’re not receiving the response from a manufacturer or dealership that you’re entitled to by law, don’t hesitate to reach out for experienced legal counsel on the matter.
Speak to an Expert for Free
At Shainfeld Law, we’ll work closely with you to to help during this process. Our team is dedicated to bringing our clients the type of attention, focus, and results that will have them back on the road. Contact Brett Shainfeld, lemon law attorney in California, for free and let us help you qualify your potential lemon law claim.