What Is a “Lemon,” Exactly?
In legal terms, a “lemon” is a car or other vehicle with major defects that affect its safety, value, or utility and that the manufacturer has been unable to fix after a reasonable number of repair attempts or within a reasonable period of time.
What Are California’s Lemon Laws?
As you may imagine, car manufacturers and dealers aren’t too keen to admit fault when vehicle issues arise. They may try to blame you for the defect or argue that the warranty doesn’t cover the specific issue.
This is where state consumer protection law kicks in. California’s lemon laws protect consumers when they buy or lease a new or used car with a substantial defect. If your car meets the criteria for a lemon vehicle, you can seek compensation in the form of a refund or replacement under our state’s lemon law.
Have you bought a defective vehicle? You may be entitled to compensation.
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What Vehicles Does California Lemon Law Cover?
The following vehicles are eligible for lemon law protection:
New vehicles and used vehicles if they are certified pre-owned and/or under the dealer’s or manufacturer’s warranty period.
- Cars, trucks, vans, SUVs, motorcycles, and boats
- The chassis, chassis cabs, and drive trains of RVs
- Dealer-owned vehicles and demonstrators
- Vehicles for personal, family, or household purposes
- Some vehicles for business use
California’s lemon law does not cover:
- Problems caused by abuse after delivery
- After-market parts such as van conversions
- Off-road vehicles and other vehicles not registered under the California Vehicle Code
Do You Have a Valid Lemon Law Claim?
You may have a case under state lemon law if:
- Your car has a substantial defect or problem covered by the dealer’s or manufacturer’s warranty, and the warranty period hasn’t expired.
- The defect affects the use, value, or safety of the vehicle.
- The issue first occurred within 18,000 miles or 18 months of delivery, whichever is sooner.
- You have made four fair and reasonable repair attempts to no avail (or two repair attempts for a serious safety defect that could lead to severe injury or death).
- The car has been in repairs for at least 30 days in total.
If you meet the above conditions, you’re not automatically entitled to compensation, but you will establish a rebuttable presumption that your vehicle is a lemon. This puts you at a distinct advantage and gives you bargaining strength to negotiate a favorable settlement with the car manufacturer.
What Compensation Is Available in Lemon Law Claims?
If lemon laws apply and your new or used vehicle qualifies for consumer protection, you can seek compensation in the form of a refund or replacement vehicle. You may also claim reimbursement for various related losses, such as:
- Cost of repairs
- Cost of rental
- Towing costs
- Loss of use
- Down payment
- Monthly payments
- Taxes and registration fees
- Attorneys’ fees
However, keep in mind that the manufacturer has the right to deduct the value you derived from the use of your vehicle. The value is normally measured by your mileage.
What Are Your Legal Options if You Have a Lemon Vehicle?
If you have a lemon claim, you can pursue traditional litigation or alternative dispute resolution methods like arbitration.
In arbitration, you and the manufacturer present your arguments before an arbitrator, a neutral third party who decides whether there have been a reasonable number of attempts at repair. The arbitrator also decides what happens next. Possible outcomes include:
- An additional repair attempt
- Replacement of your vehicle
- A partial or refund of the purchase price
- Reimbursement for related expenses
Do You Have Quality Issues With Your Car? Contact an Experienced California Lemon Law Attorney.
California’s lemon law protects consumers who buy or lease defective new or used cars and other consumer goods. If you believe your vehicle may be a lemon, contact our team at Seven Law Group, APC, today. We exclusively handle lemon law claims.
Call (310) 525-2244 or fill out our online form for a free consultation with a lemon law attorney. We are available 24/7.
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