We all know lemons are a great first ingredient when you’re trying to make lemonade, unless of course that lemon is your car. Getting on the road with a new-to-you vehicle and discovering that it is a sour experience is annoying at best, and dangerous at worst. That’s why California has a lemon law, to help protect you and others who share the road with you from unsafe and unreliable clunker cars.
What is California’s Lemon Law?
California’s lemon law is officially known as the Song-Beverly Consumer Warranty Act, and it states that if you purchase a defective vehicle, you can get a replacement or a refund from the manufacturer, whether you bought a new vehicle or a used vehicle under a valid warranty.
While this is great news, enforcing the Lemon Law isn’t always easy, and there’s a good chance you will need a Costa Mesa Lemon Law Lawyer in order to get what you deserve.
Importance of Good Records For Your Lemon Law Claim
Of course, cars aren’t perfect, especially if other people have driven them before you. Car dealerships and other sellers have some protection too. You aren’t supposed to run back and return a car over the first little quirk. You do have to make some attempt to have them repaired. California’s Lemon Law states that if your vehicle is under the original manufacturer’s warranty, either the dealer or manufacturer needs to make a “reasonable” number of attempts to repair the vehicle. As the car’s owner, you need to be able to show that reasonable attempts were made. Although the state does not dictate what that means specifically, the more receipts, work orders, and used parts you keep track of, the better your chances of winning your Lemon Law claim. In order to be eligible to file a Lemon Law claim on a new vehicle, at least one of the following needs to be true
- Two repairs were attempted on the vehicle to fix a defect that could cause serious injury or death. These defects should also decrease the value of the automobile, its use, or level of safety.
- You brought the vehicle to the dealership four or more times to fix the same defect
- The automobile has spent at least 30 days at the dealership in an attempt to fix the same defect since you acquired it.
In addition to these guidelines, the vehicle should also be less than 18 months old or should be driven less than 18,000 miles.
What If I Have a Used Car?
Many times used cars are sold “as is,” and if that’s the case with your car, California’s Lemon Law does not apply. However, there are some circumstances where a Costa Mesa Lemon Law lawyer may be able to help you. The situations where a used car can qualify under the lemon law include
A transferred new car warranty
A Certified Pre-Owned (CPO) Warranty
With a CPO warranty, the vehicle goes back to the manufacturer for inspection, and is refurbished so that it can be resold with some type of warranty intact. This warranty will not be as good as it is on a new vehicle, but it does offer some protection. In order to get a vehicle with a CPO warranty, you must buy through a dealership.
A Lemon Law Buyback Warranty
Sometimes a car that was determined to be a lemon is taken back by the manufacturer and there is an attempt to repair it and then resell it. When these vehicles are taken back and resold, it is required that they carry a warranty of 12 months or 12,000 miles, which covers whatever problem the vehicle had before.
Your Options With a Lemon Law Claim
If the vehicle you are buying is new or nearly new, it is worth your time and attention to make sure it carries one of these warranties so that you will be covered by the California Lemon Law if needed. There are some dealerships that offer other types of warranties, such as extended warranties or service contracts. This is not the same thing. Be sure to check your buyer’s agreement closely, and if there is any doubt, check with a Costa Mesa Lemon Law Attorney to make sure you will be covered if your vehicle is not what it is promised.
If a problem arises, make sure to get it back to the dealership right away and keep close records of all attempts to repair the vehicle. If it turns out to be a lemon, you will need record of two attempts to fix the same defect, and that defect has to be serious enough to potentially cause serious injury or death. You can then take your records to Neale & Fhima, LLP and we can help you file a Lemon Law Claim.
With a successful claim, most people take advantage of the state law by having their vehicle bought back by the manufacturer or dealership or replaced. In order to expedite your settlement. In some cases, however, there may be a possibility of getting more money with a higher cash settlement. If this is an option, our Costa Mesa lawyer will advise you whether this is a viable option given your situation.
If you are buying a new or nearly new car, you should be able to count on it working that way it was intended. Most of the time, it will. Most dealerships don’t want to sell you a lemon, and will do what they can to avoid a lemon law case. But it is still important to be aware of the possibility, and stay diligent when it comes to tracking any problems, even if they don’t seem serious at first. The better records you have, the stronger your case will be if you do need to file a claim.
Warranties have a limited window of opportunity, so if you find yourself bringing your vehicle in for major repairs soon after you get it, it’s a good idea to start a conversation with a Costa Mesa lawyer about the possibility of a lemon law claim. At Neale & Fhima, we have handled several of these claims in the Costa Mesa area and throughout Southern California. To earn more about your options, or if you feel you have a potential lemon on your hands, contact us.