By: Brett Shainfeld

As lemon law experts with over a decade of pursuing — and winning — lemon law cases in the state of California, we receive a high-volume of questions about the specifics of the lemon law. We’ve helped consumers understand everything from what the lemon law is to how they can best file a claim with their car’s manufacturer.

Some common questions we get about the California lemon law are about what defects manufacturers will repair under the lemon law, what it costs consumers to get a lemon repaired, and how to go about starting the repair process. We’re diving into the answers below.

Remind Me — What’s the Lemon Law?

The lemon law protects consumers from purchasing new vehicles that were sold with faults or serious issues — cars that are considered “lemons.”

Ultimately, this means your car has a “substantial defect that persists after a considerable number of repair attempts,” and these defects must occur while the car is still under warranty. Each state has their own specific wording as to what counts as a substantial defect or a reasonable number of repair attempts.

For California, the lemon law is as follows:

  • The manufacturer has made two or more repair attempts to fix a warranty problem that could result in death or serious injury
  • The manufacturer has made at least four repair attempts to fix the same warranty problem, and the issue still persists
  • The car has not been drivable for at least 30 days because of warranty repair problems
  • Any issues the car is having are not the result of abuse by the owner
  • The above criteria must be met within 18 months or 18,000 miles of ownership – whichever comes first

So if you do have problems with your new car, it’s a good idea to take it to the manufacturer for repair instead of your neighborhood repair shop.

What Defects Will Manufacturers Repair Under the Lemon Law?

Under California lemon law, the manufacturer is required to make repairs to any part of your new car that is covered under a warranty. Especially if the faulty part of the car can cause serious injury or even death if not repaired.

Some things the manufacturer will repair include:

  • Engine defects
  • Cooling system
  • Brakes
  • Airbags
  • Suspension
  • Axle system
  • Driveline
  • Rear differential
  • Some warning lights
  • Electrical problems
  • Transmission
  • Fuel injection
  • Air conditioning

In addition to the problems covered above, your car’s manufacturer can also be responsible for some symptoms of serious issues, such as a lack of power or smoke coming from the tailpipe or engine system. Even features of your new car that don’t pose a serious threat, but still aren’t working properly, could be covered. These include things such as power windows, locks and seats, sunroof operation, traction control, seat material wrinkling, paint defects and more.

The dealership where you purchased the car from should have provided you with documentation that details the full list of items covered under your car’s warranty. If you’re in doubt, always contact the dealership or manufacturer to find out.

Is There A Fee Or Deductible When Manufacturers Repair Defects Covered Under Warranty?

Depending on the type of warranty you have on your new car, and what the fine print in that warranty says, you may still be required to pay a deductible when you take your car in for repairs. Some manufacturers will charge a flat deductible per visit — so one visit with three repairs could cost a flat $100 — or per repair — so the same visit would cost $300 for all three repairs.

If the manufacturer is able to resolve your car’s issue in a single repair attempt, this is often a small price compared to the average cost of the repair. But if you have a lemon on your hands, these deductibles can add up quickly over several repair attempts.

The good news is that if you do have a lemon, you won’t lose all those deductible payments forever. When the manufacturer compensates you for the car, they’re also required to compensate you for your repair costs, too. And should your lemon case have to go to court in order for you to get the compensation you deserve, the manufacturer will also have to pay your legal fees as well.

How Do I Get My Lemon Fixed?

If you’re experiencing problems with your new car, the first thing you should do is take it to the manufacturer or dealership for repairs, and make sure everything is documented. If your car does end up being a lemon, this documentation will be vital should you need to pursue a lemon law case against the manufacturer.

Any tests they perform, diagnoses they make or repairs they handle, be sure to get it all in writing with the date and mileage of the car at the time. Then if the problem persists and you feel you’ve met the above criteria for having a lemon, you can contact the manufacturer for compensation.

By law, they’re required to either buy the car back from you, replace it with a working vehicle, or offer you a cash settlement. But manufacturers often don’t want to pay up, and they definitely don’t want to buy back a lemon they can’t sell to someone else. At that point, it’s time to get help from experts like us.

We’ll help you get the compensation you deserve from your vehicle’s manufacturer. Contact us today at (310) 295-1888 for a free consultation, where we’ll review your case and determine the best next steps for you.

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