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About Lemon Law
Buying a car can be an exciting time. That said, car buyers typically place a significant amount of trust in the dealer or private party they are buying from. Modern vehicles are extremely complicated machines, and it's nearly impossible for the average consumer to be able to accurately evaluate a vehicle's condition prior to purchase.
Fortunately, all 50 states have some form of “lemon laws.” These statutes protect recent car-buyers who find that their purchase isn’t meeting common performance and quality standards. However, there are many different caveats and requirements within the lemon laws that consumers will need to be aware of to use them to their full advantage.
What is a Lemon Law?
Part of the role of the government is to protect consumers against fraud and deceptive practices, especially when thousands of dollars are involved. Lemon laws are federal and state laws that protect car buyers if they have purchased a vehicle or even another item with severe defects or mechanical issues.
When a car buyer realizes there is a mechanical or other warrantied issue with the vehicle, they need to bring it to the attention of the dealership or manufacturer. Under most state lemon laws, the vehicle’s manufacturer or dealer is allowed a chance to fix the issues before the buyer can escalate the situation further. If the problem isn’t adequately addressed, the car buyer usually has the right to a refund or a new car. These laws apply whether the dealer or manufacturer was knowingly trying to defraud the consumer or not. However, if repairs don’t fix the issue or they refuse to take care of the issue for the buyer, the buyer can exercise their legal rights.
Lemon Law Requirements Vary Per State
Generally, the basics of a lemon law are the same no matter where you purchase a vehicle. Lemon laws help ensure that those who make a significant purchase like a vehicle have protections in place. Even though the buyer isn’t generally entitled to a refund or a new vehicle immediately, state lemon laws provide an avenue for the situation to be rectified in their favor.
Like many other legal issues, each state has its own set of lemon laws. The way the laws are applied can vary from one state to the next, making it critical to understand and rely upon the lemon laws specific to the state where you made your purchase. Most consumers turn to a local lemon law attorney to help them in this process, and you can too.
Breakdown of California Lemon Law
California’s lemon laws cover new cars. If there is still some time on the manufacturer’s warranty, it can also cover used vehicles. It generally applies to dealer-owned vehicles and demonstrators, purchased or leased vehicles used for personal, family, household, and commercial business. It doesn’t cover off-road vehicles or others that aren’t registered under the California Vehicle Code.
In this state, the lemon law is only activated once a “reasonable” number of repair attempts are made. This so-called Lemon Law Presumption requires that:
- The vehicle’s issues are covered by the manufacturer’s warranty.
- The issues happened within 18 months of delivery or within 18,000 miles, whichever came first—although some major defects after this time could be covered.
- The car’s problems reduce its use, value, or safety to you, and they didn’t arise from abuse.
- You have notified the manufacturer about the problems, preferably in writing, if the warranty or owner’s manual requires this step.
Why Do I Need A Lemon Law Attorney?
Buying a vehicle is one of the most significant purchases you could make in your lifetime. Naturally, you want, deserve, and pay for a reliable set of wheels. New cars that have constant mechanical issues could be “lemons.”
If you’ve purchased a car that isn’t performing correctly, you have rights. A lemon lawyer can advocate for those rights and help you in many ways. They are well-versed in California’s lemon laws and can explain how they apply to your specific situation. Your lemon lawyer can ensure that you keep careful documentation that will help support your claim in court.
Without a lemon lawyer on your side, your vehicle’s manufacturer may take advantage of you. They may convince you to agree to yet another repair or to accept a nominal cash deal when you are legally entitled to a full refund. Your lemon law attorney can help you get this refund and define the manufacturer’s obligations to you. They can be your liaison with the manufacturer’s attorney using their experience to obtain the best outcome in your circumstances.