Traditionally, a “lemon” is a car that has serious problems, usually directly from the manufacturer. These problems affect the car’s safety, value, or use. The issues might cause the vehicle to stall. For example, not start from time to time. California lemon laws might count when the car or truck becomes undrivable because it is unreliable.
The lemon law in California can be beneficial for consumers who are having trouble with a vehicle after purchasing it. While most lemon laws are designed for consumers to use on their own, having a lemon lawyer in Dana Point to assist with the process can still be helpful. They will help the consumer jump through all the hoops they must go through to repair or replace their vehicle. However, finding the right attorney to meet your needs can be a challenge.
What Is the Lemon Law in California?
California’s lemon law is formally known as the Song-Beverly Consumer Warranty Act. It is part of the California Civil Code. Essentially, this code section requires that vehicle manufacturers replace or repurchase a vehicle if it cannot be repaired within a certain number of attempts. This law assumes these vehicles cannot conform to the maturer’s express written warranty, so they must be replaced.
Which Cars Are Covered by California’s Lemon Law?
Lemon laws in California cover new and used cars that cannot be repaired. If the vehicle meets certain requirements, the owner might be entitled to a replacement vehicle or a refund. These requirements include the following:
- The manufacturer’s warranty covers the car’s problems
- The problem first occurred within 18 months of obtaining the vehicle or before putting 18,000 miles on the car (whichever came first)
- The problems reduce the value, use, or safety of the vehicle
In addition, in some cases, you must also notify the manufacturer about the problems if the warranty language requires it. The dealership will usually notify the manufacturer for any warranty work, but it is often a good idea to notify the manufacturer yourself (in writing) as well.
Most California vehicles are covered by lemon laws, with the exception of many off-road vehicles. Of course, any vehicle that has been severely damaged or mistreated likely will not be covered by any lemon law protections.
What Are the Repair Requirements for Lemon Law in California?
Once the consumer has attempted to repair the vehicle a “reasonable number of times,” then lemon laws will apply. A reasonable number of times can be defined in a few ways, including the following:
- The vehicle has been taken in four or more times for the same problem (and it still is not fixed)
- You have taken the car in at least two times, and the problem involved is severe enough to cause serious bodily harm or death (and the issue is still not fixed)
- The vehicle has been in the shop for more than 30 days (not necessarily at the same time) for repairs related to any problem covered by the warranty.
If your car meets any one of these three criteria, then the law assumes that you have attempted to repair it a “reasonable number of times.”
When Do You Need a Lemon Law Attorney in California?
In many situations, you can deal with the manufacturer on your own and assert your rights under California’s lemon laws. However, there are situations where having an attorney on your side can be very helpful.
What Will a Lemon Law Attorney Do?
- Explain your rights and obligations.
An experienced lemon law attorney will be able to provide you with advice and guidance about your rights and obligations under lemon laws. They will also walk you through the process and ensure that you are following all of the required steps to get a replacement vehicle or receive an appropriate buy-back.
- Negotiate with the manufacturer.
A lemon law attorney will also help you negotiate with the vehicle manufacturer. These services can be especially helpful when the manufacturer has been difficult to contact or deal with. When a vehicle spends more time in the repair shop than on the road, it can be very frustrating. Many drivers want a lemon law attorney to help these red tape involved in a lemon law claim.
- Seek remedies outside of California’s lemon laws.
A buy-back or replacement vehicle is really the only remedy under California’s lemon law. However, a California lemon law attorney might be able to help you negotiate a cash settlement so you can keep your vehicle and receive payment for the time and effort associated with dealing with the problems. The cash settlement might also address the decreased value of the vehicle because of the repair history.
- Assist with vehicle problems that do not qualify for California’s Lemon Laws.
Some vehicles have issues and require extensive repairs, but they do not qualify for California’s lemon law for one reason or another. Perhaps the warranty has expired, or the vehicle’s condition was misrepresented. In those situations, requesting any remedies under lemon laws will not be an option. Instead, an attorney may be able to help you determine your rights and make recommendations about your next steps under claims such as breach of contract or fraud.
- Work through arbitration with you.
In many situations, arbitration may be an option to settle your dispute regarding your car further. For example, California’s Arbitration Certification Program offers a lemon law arbitration service. It is optional, and your attorney will be able to help you determine whether the arbitration will be helpful in your situation. If your lawyer recommends it, they can often work with you to move through the arbitration process.
How to Find a Lemon Law Attorney in California
Finding a lemon law attorney in Dana Point, CA, is as easy as doing an online search. However, you may not want to choose the first name that appears in your search results. Talk to family and friends to see if they have attorney recommendations. Read online reviews and do research before choosing an attorney. Finally, meet with any potential lemon law attorneys to determine if they fit your situation.
A good lawyer will explain your rights and obligations thoroughly and answer any questions you may have. Be sure to choose a lemon law attorney in Dana Point, CA that seems knowledgeable and comfortable in this specialized area of the law.
Do not wait to take action. Lemon law claims in California have time limitations that can reduce your rights. Get the process started today.