By: Brett Shainfeld
When it comes to the lemon law in California, there are a few particulars you need to be familiar with if you hope to successfully file a claim against your car’s manufacturer. One of the more important things you need to know is the actual requirements of the lemon law — the criteria you have to meet in order to rightfully declare your car a lemon. The other is the California lemon law time limit, or the lemon law statute of limitations.
Here at Shainfeld Law, we’re experts in California lemon law, and we can help you better understand the ins and outs of pursuing a claim. Timing can be everything for your case — both because there is a statute of limitations on lemon law claims, and because the time frame in which your car is experiencing problems also affects your chances of winning a claim.
We’ll talk more about both of these below.
What is the California Lemon Law Time Limit?
First things first. The time limit for pursuing a case — more precisely known as the California lemon law statute of limitations — is four years. This time limit puts restrictions on consumers and prevents them from filing a case on a lemon car they’ve been driving and getting use out of for 10 or 20 years.
With the lemon law statute of limitations, consumers are encouraged to seek compensation sooner rather than later. This four year time period usually begins from the first time you start experiencing issues with your car. Which is one reason it’s incredibly important to keep very thorough records of your car troubles from the first visit to the mechanic.
Why File a Lemon Law Claim Sooner Than Later?
Even though the lemon law time limit is a considerable amount of time, you shouldn’t delay in pursuing a case. As soon as you believe your car qualifies as a lemon, you should work with an expert lemon lawyer to file a claim.
When you try to file a lemon law claim, you’re essentially saying you were sold a faulty vehicle whose value and/or safety are compromised because of the defects it was manufactured with. And because the car doesn’t hold up to the quality implied by the manufacturer and dealer, you’re entitled to a buyback or other form of compensation to make up for it.
Starting the California lemon law proceedings as soon as possible only helps your case. First of all, the sooner you file a claim, the sooner you are able to get compensated and can trade your faulty vehicle for one that works the way it should and does not pose a safety risk to you and your family.
And secondly, waiting to file a lemon law claim makes it seem as though the issues plaguing your vehicle aren’t really that serious. A lemon is a car whose faults can’t be repaired — if you’re able to drive your faulty vehicle for years, then a judge or arbiter will make the assumption that the issues aren’t considerably affecting the car’s safety or value.
As soon as you suspect your car of being a lemon, you should start working with a lemon lawyer. The sooner you start your lemon law claim, the better.
Time Criteria for Your Car to be a Lemon
In order to file a lemon law claim, your car has to meet the lemon criteria set forth by the state of California. And that includes a time component that dictates how soon after purchase your car’s issues have to begin in order to blame them on the car being a lemon — and not just having issues because it’s old.
To be a lemon in California, your car has to have a substantial defect that you’ve tried to repair multiple times without any success. This includes a general warranty issue that you’ve made four or more attempts to fix, or a serious defect that you’ve made two or more attempts to fix. Or, your car has to have been out of service for at least 30 days since you purchased it because of these issues.
There’s a time limit for this as well. While it varies by state, in California, your car must be experiencing these types of defects within 18 months or 18,000 miles of purchase, whichever comes first. We’ve already said that the California lemon law statute of limitations is four years, so you don’t have to file your claim within 18 months or 18,000 miles. You only have to be able to prove that your car began experiencing issues within that time frame.
This is most easily done with service records — so be sure to keep detailed records of every issue and repair attempt that relates to your new car. As long as you can prove that your car first began having these problems within that time frame, you’re eligible for compensation under the California lemon law.
Call Shainfeld Law
If you suspect you may have been sold a lemon, give Shainfeld Law a call today. We have more than a decade of experience in winning lemon law cases again many major manufacturers, including Audi, BMW, Ford, GMC and others.
Even if you aren’t sure your car is a lemon, we can still help. We offer a free consultation that will help you easily determine if your car qualifies as a lemon in the state of California. And if you aren’t sure if you’re within the lemon law statute of limitations or not, we can help determine that as well.
Don’t wait any longer to start the lemon law process than you already have. Speed can be everything in lemon law cases. So give us a call or reach out to us online today.