Buying a new car and experiencing mechanical difficulties, again and again, can be a frustrating experience. That’s why under California law, residents of Dana Point may be entitled to financial compensation if a vehicle meets the criteria to be considered a lemon. Depending on the situation, you may be entitled to get a refund for your down payment and monthly payments on your vehicle, as well as reimbursement for certain fees. The best way to get everything you deserve is to work with a team of experienced lemon law attorneys in California.
Why Were Lemon Laws Created?
Lemon laws were created to ensure that a buyer isn’t obligated to continue paying for a car with an unfixable manufacturing issue. It also makes warranties more enforceable and fair for buyers and sellers alike. Lemon laws support your right to have a replacement or refund when you unknowingly purchase a defective vehicle.
What Exactly Is Covered under the California Lemon Law?
Lemon laws require vehicle manufacturers to reimburse the buyer or replace their vehicle when one or more of the following occurs:
- There have been at least four attempts from the manufacturer to fix the same warranty problem
- The vehicle has been out of service for a month or longer for repair work
- There have been two or more attempts to repair serious warranty issues that have the potential to lead to severe injury or death
The vehicle’s issues must have occurred spontaneously without owner misuse or abuse. The same issue must persist throughout repeated repair efforts.
How Do I Know If My Car Qualifies under CA Lemon Laws?
A car is considered a lemon and therefore protected under lemon laws if it was purchased new from an authorized dealership or manufacturer and has shown multiple failings even after attempted repairs. The repair attempts must begin within the first 18 months of possessing the vehicle, or within the first 18,000 miles driven, whichever comes first.
It is important to keep in mind that even if purchased new, lemon laws do not cover motorhomes meant to temporarily or permanently house people, or off-road vehicles.
Could My Used Car Be Covered under California Lemon Laws?
Used cars can be covered under California lemon laws if they are still under the manufacturer’s warranty. They can only be covered under lemon laws if you were handed a written warranty during your sale.
You also must have purchased your vehicle through a retailer. Transactions made with a private individual are not covered under lemon laws. Your pre-owned vehicle must meet all other requirements to be considered a lemon. It must have a persistent defect and must have spent substantial time being repaired for it to qualify.
How Important Is Documentation in Lemon Law Claims?
Proving that the issue was unable to be fixed multiple times is necessary to win a lemon law claim. While taking your car in for repairs, it’s important that you document every instance in which the problem could not be fixed. Make sure your service provider documents every detail in your order and includes a detailed description of the issue and why it cannot be fixed.
It’s also important to ensure that your repair orders are clearly and properly dated. This shows a clear record of the repair issues and timeline. Keep in mind that it doesn’t matter if the dealer tries different repairs on the issue. As long as the same issue continues to persist, your car qualifies as a lemon.
What Can I Get from Lemon Laws?
What you stand to receive from lemon laws largely depends on your circumstances. If you leased your vehicle, you’ll be entitled to reimbursement of your monthly payments as well as your down payment. Depending on the situation, you may be refunded for towing or rental car fees, depending on how long your car wasn’t functioning. The manufacturer will also cover any existing loans or fees toward your car, and you’ll also get a Lemon Law refund check.
Sometimes, in certain situations, you may be offered to swap your existing vehicle in exchange for a new one. In this circumstance, your manufacturer will not cover your existing loans, and they will remain the same after your vehicle is swapped.
In some cases, though uncommon, the manufacturer may deem your cause “minor” and may refuse to comply with the lemon laws. In this case, you may have to hire an attorney to prove why you deserve to be compensated for your car.
What Should I Do If I Suspect My Car Is A “Lemon?”
If your car has a consistent substantial defect that makes it difficult or impossible to operate, it may be considered a “lemon” under California law. If you believe this to be the case, you need to make sure you have all of your car records and repair receipts easily accessible. The more proof you have, the more likely you and your vehicle will be deemed eligible under the lemon laws.
There must have been at least four failed repairs on your car to qualify for lemon laws. In some extreme cases, where the issue can lead to serious injury or death, only two failed repairs are required to be documented under California law. After you’ve gathered all the required information, contact your manufacturer or dealer for a replacement or refund. You may also want to mail a physical letter detailing all information about your car, the persisting issues, and records of attempted fixes.
You don’t have to continue paying for a defective vehicle. If your vehicle meets the requirements for a lemon, you may be entitled to a complete refund or replacement of your defective vehicle. The California law ensures that no manufacturer or dealership can force a buyer to pay for a defective product. Working with skilled lemon law attorneys in California is the best way to protect your interests.