Getting a lemon is the last thing you want to have happen, but if you are not savvy, you may find yourself running afoul of one. For those who live in California, they at least have one card up their sleeve: the California lemon law. In California, the sale of lemon vehicles by a dealership or a manufacturer is treated rather seriously. But what kinds of vehicles are even covered by California lemon law?
Which vehicles are covered by California lemon law?
First off, it is important to discuss exactly what a lemon even is. The term basically refers to a vehicle that has serious problems that affect the operation of the vehicle, problems that were not made apparent to you by the person or persons who sold it to you. The time frame of these damages is also going to be limited, as if, say, a vehicle lasts for 10 years and suddenly has a serious issue. In this case, that would almost certainly not be regarded as a lemon. Basically, the likelihood that your vehicle would be affected by an unknown defect 10 years later that was knowingly present before the sale are rather low. In California, the law requires that the problem be detected within either the first 18 months of ownership or the first 18,000 miles driven while in your possession. This is not a hard limit, however; if you discover the presence of a major defect after this period has ended, there may be something to pursue here, though you should consult with your attorney before diving headfirst into that. The damages and/or defects found within your vehicle also need to be something covered by warranty. With all that said, we have to also look at the impact of the problem. For instance, if the problem is relatively minor and makes no real impact on the necessary functions of your vehicle. And here is the real lynchpin — the vehicle needs to continue having this problem after a reasonable number of repair attempts. Those are the basics of it anyway, and the more complicated aspect of this is that everyone is not necessarily going to agree on what constitutes a lemon and what does not.
Beyond the basic understanding of lemon law rules, now the relevant question comes up: what kinds of vehicles are covered by California lemon law? Well, first off, the idea that lemon vehicles are inherently previously used is not always going to be the truth. While it makes sense that lemon qualities would be more common in them, given that the vehicles had the opportunity to suffer problems from that previous use, a new vehicle can just as easily count as a lemon. After all, all it takes is that the person or organization who sold you the vehicle, a new vehicle sold without informing the driver of a certain issue with it would definitely see it counting under California’s lemon law. California’s lemon law covers a number of vehicles, including pickup trucks, cars, vans, and SUVs, though it also covers the drive train, the chassis, and the cab of the chassis of a motor home. Recreational vehicles also apply under this for similar circumstances. Of course, not all vehicles that are covered under California lemon law are necessarily going to be vehicles meant for land. For example, a boat or other form of watercraft also fits under the law. Not only that, but vehicles purchased for regular use (ie family, household, or personal use) as well as vehicles leased primarily for business both apply.
Not every vehicle is going to apply under California lemon law, unfortunately. Luckily, the first example of these exceptions is a pretty understandable one. Once the vehicle is in your possession, there are certain behaviors that you must avoid in order for it to apply under the lemon law. Namely, do not treat your vehicle in an abusive manner. Granted, this should be common sense for any driver, but the worse you treat your vehicle, the worse you keep up with its regular upkeep, the less likely you are to be able to show that a problem that you have discovered was a problem that existed before the purchase. The seller can easily argue against you and claim that they had nothing to do with that issue with the vehicle, leaving you to deal with the damage the vehicle sustained on its own. As far as types of vehicles that can be considered under California lemon law, any vehicle that is not registered under the California Vehicle Code. This means that all-terrain vehicles, or ATVs, are not going to apply under the lemon law in California, so if you are thinking about looking into that or any other vehicle not covered in this article, do make sure that you take care to determine whether it applies and, if not, take care that you do not get tricked into buying a bad vehicle.
There are different tactics that the provider of the vehicle may attempt to make the process more difficult for you, hoping that you may decide that you would sooner give up on getting compensation or a replacement. These tactics are so popular, mainly because for a regular person trying to get their lemon fixed or replaced, they are more likely to be discouraged from going any further. They may do this by insisting that your vehicle does not qualify under California lemon law, claim that the defect was not present before the sale, and blame you instead, or any number of other approaches. Having the assistance of a used car lemon law attorney who specializes in these kinds of laws is a rather significant boon, so if you find that you are getting stonewalled in any way, consulting with one could be what you need to do in order to get the compensation you are entitled to. One such method of getting what you’re entitled to is through a process called arbitration, which may be a worthwhile approach to take to alleviate your grievances if the dealership or manufacturer that sold you the vehicle is amenable to getting things done quickly and calmly. Through arbitration, there are multiple potential outcomes. For example, an additional repair can be conducted to see if the problem can be properly fixed. On the other hand, you may see the entire vehicle replaced. If that is not an amenable decision, however, a refund of part or all of the vehicle’s value, as well as a refund for related expenses (such as towing, rentals, and repairs) may be covered as needed.