Have you ever had the bad luck to buy a car that needed frequent repairs? It’s a frustrating situation because you depend on your vehicle to live your life. If you’re like most people, you drive somewhere almost every day, to work, daycare, church, the grocery, and a multitude of other places. Even if the repairs are covered under your warranty, you still have the inconvenience of dealing with car repairs.
Most people would tell you that you bought a lemon, and that may be accurate. Because people depend so much on their vehicles, every state in the U.S. has laws to protect buyers who have purchased defective vehicles. If your state’s lemon laws cover your situation, you may be able to get compensation for your trouble. Your Lemon Law Lawyer can help you assess your situation and provide you with your legal options.
The California Lemon Law
In California, there is actually a specific definition of what a lemon is. There are certain requirements your vehicle must meet in order to qualify under the California lemon law. For your vehicle to be a lemon, the vehicle must have defects covered by the warranty that remain unresolved after multiple attempts at a licensed repair place. You may also see the lemon laws referred to as The Tanner Act and/or the Song-Beverly Consumer Warranty Act. The Song-Beverly Consumer Warranty Act specifically
- addresses what parties and what kinds of transactions are covered under the Act,
- gives details about the warranty protection offered by the Act, and
- explains what remedies are available when parties violate the Act.
Your lemon law attorney will help you assess whether you are protected by consumer protection laws in California and if so, give you the choices you have as to what you can do next.
Express vs Implied Warranties
If you have never had a bad experience with a large purchase, you may believe that sellers are giving an implied guarantee that their products are not defective. You may believe that a certain standard is implied even if you never had such a conversation with the party you purchased from. To a certain extent, you are correct. Manufacturers are not allowed to sell dishwashers that aren’t waterproof or vacuum cleaners with no suction. But you can only get so far if you have a claim with implied warranties. What exactly is guaranteed with the product? How long is that guarantee going to last? Without a specific promise, you may not get very far if you buy a product that only lasts for a short time.
Express warranties are specific warranties that a seller provides to the purchaser verbally or in writing. With an express warranty, the seller is promising a certain level of use for a specific period of time. The warranty does not have to identify itself as such; it is enough that the packaging guarantees a certain quality and lifespan for the product.
While the law recognizes oral warranties, you should get any guarantee in writing. Otherwise, the other parties may say that you are misrepresenting what they offered, and you may never be able to prove your case. If you have any questions, you can speak to a lemon lawyer before making an important purchase so that you know you have the protection you need.
California’s Lemon Law and Vehicle Purchases
Any vehicle eligible for lemon law protections in California must have an existing warranty with express guarantees. While California recognizes implied warranties, the lemon law requires an existing warranty. Any vehicle covered under the lemon law must weigh under 10,000 pounds and have been purchased or leased through a retail transaction, and the vehicle in question must belong to an individual or business that has between 1 and 5 vehicles.
Anyone buying a vehicle in California is protected by the Car Buyers’ Bill of Rights, which provides everyone purchasing a new or used vehicle in California with these 5 rights:
- The seller must provide buyer disclosures so that the buyer is fully aware of what is being purchased and what every charge is for.
- If you apply for financing from the dealer, they must provide you with your credit score.
- The amount that the seller may receive from the lender in the form of markups is limited by law.
- When you buy a certified used vehicle, the seller must provide you with a complete vehicle inspection and report.
- You have two days in which you are allowed to return the vehicle with a full refund, no questions asked. This gives you time to test drive the vehicle, have your trusted mechanic look it over, or whatever else you need to do. This right to cancel may not apply to certain vehicles, such as motorcycles or off-road vehicles.
The seller may agree to provide you with an appropriate legal remedy, but otherwise, you will need to go to court to explain to the judge what you deserve. A “remedy” in law refers to the action that will make the situation right. Here are some of the remedies that may be available to you:
- If your car keeps breaking down, you can ask that the seller service the vehicle properly and repair the defective parts so that you no longer continue to have the same problems with the vehicle. The seller will need to provide the buyer with available service locations.
- When repairs may not be enough to fix the problem, such as if repairs would take too long, you can ask that your vehicle be replaced. Vehicle selection is often personal and the seller may not have an acceptable vehicle available.
- When other options don’t work, you can ask that the seller reimburse you for the price you paid for the vehicle.
- Are you out extra money for expenses related to the vehicle? You may be able to ask for extra money in damages.
Buying a vehicle is a big deal, and when things go wrong, it may be difficult to get help. Most people don’t have the money to invest in another vehicle while still paying for a lemon that constantly needs repairs. Your lemon law lawyer can help you prove your case so that you can take care of this situation and move on with your life. If you are in this situation or think you may be, please call us today so we can start working on your case.
Thanks for pointing out that disputes about warranties are also sometimes covered by lemon lawyers. I have a friend who would like to look for one soon because he found a defect on his car. It will be important to sort that out because it might cause an accident if not dealt with.