Lemon Law in California
Buying a vehicle is usually one of the most important things we do. Regardless of whether it is a new or used car, it is generally an investment that we make with great enthusiasm.
Unfortunately, we do not always receive the expected quality and it is precisely in those moments that we can resort to the lemon law in California .
Most new cars come with a manufacturer’s warranty, which gives buyers certain rights if the vehicle doesn’t perform as intended. This guarantee is included in the price of the car sold.
Some dealers offer service contracts that provide a lot of protection for a reasonable price, while other contracts have exclusions that make them practically worthless.
In either case, keep in mind that you have a protection tool, the California lemon law.
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What is the lemon law in California?
The California lemon law ( lemon law , in English) offers protection in the purchase or rental of consumer goods for personal or family use.
It applies to most consumer goods except clothing and consumable goods such as fruits, vegetables, cosmetics, and over-the-counter drugs.
In California, if a manufacturer cannot repair a good after a reasonable number of attempts, it must either replace it or refund the purchaser of a defective product.
When it comes to cars, the lemon law in California explicitly applies to vehicles with existing warranties.
Lemon Law regulations cover many types of vehicles, including:
- Cars, trucks, vans and SUVs. It also covers the chassis, chassis-cab and transmission of a motorhome. Aftermarket parts such as van conversions are not included.
- Dealer-owned vehicles and demonstrators.
- Vehicles purchased or leased for personal, family, or household purposes.
- Many vehicles purchased or leased primarily for business use.
- The lemon law also covers the chassis, chassis-cab, and drivetrain of a motorhome. This law covers leased vehicles, pre-owned vehicles, and financed vehicles .
Keep in mind that in the state of California, this law covers both new cars and used cars under warranty.
How does the lemon law work in California?
If you have a vehicle for which the lemon law applies, you should know that there are certain steps you must take to protect your rights.
In order for you to benefit from the protection granted by law in California, you must do the following:
- Notify the manufacturer or dealer of problems you are experiencing with the vehicle.
- Document the nature of the problems, including when they started.
- Take your vehicle to the dealer or manufacturer for repair as soon as possible.
- Save all documents related to the repair; don’t trust the dealer or manufacturer to keep them for you.
- If the problem persists after multiple repair attempts, contact an attorney as soon as possible.
- Remember that many manufacturers vigorously defend themselves against lemon law claims.
For this reason, hiring an experienced attorney early in the process will help maximize your chances of reaching a satisfactory settlement.
- It is important to take into account the term of the vehicle warranty at the time of claiming. If the guarantee ends, you could lose the opportunity to exercise your rights under this law.
When does the Lemon Law apply?
The California Lemon Law applies when a “reasonable” number of repair attempts have been made . This is called the Lemon Law Presumption.
The Lemon Law Presumption applies if all of the following are true:
- Problems with your car are covered by the manufacturer’s warranty.
- The problem first occurred within 18 months of delivery, or 18,000 kilometers, whichever comes first. (For major defects after this time, seek the advice of an attorney.)
- The problem reduces the use, value, or safety of the vehicle to you, and this problem did not result from misuse of the vehicle.
- If your warranty or owner’s manual requires it, you should have reported the problems to the manufacturer. (It is best to have this in writing).
- The law can also be applied in any of the following cases:
- You’ve taken the car in for repair four or more times for the same problem and it still hasn’t been fixed.
- You’ve taken your car in for repair two or more times for a problem serious enough to cause death or serious bodily injury and it still hasn’t been fixed.
- The vehicle has been in the shop for more than 30 days (not necessarily consecutively) for the repair of any problem covered by the warranty.
- If your vehicle meets these criteria, the Lemon Law presumes that a reasonable number of repair attempts have been made and you may be entitled to a replacement or refund.
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What is the deadline to file a claim under the California Lemon Law?
The California lemon law has a couple of time limits that you will need to be aware of.
First, the problems with your vehicle must have occurred during the warranty period. Unfortunately, if the problem occurs after the warranty period, you may not be able to make a claim under this law.
Second, the California lemon law rules have a statute of limitations for filing a claim . Under its statute of limitations, you generally must file your lawsuit within four years of discovering the defect.
Even if you have four years to file a claim, it is advisable not to wait until the last minute.
We recommend that you consult with an attorney who is an expert in this law as soon as you suspect that your vehicle has defects.
Lemon Law Attorneys California
Many people try to file their own claims under the California lemon law, and are happy to receive any compensation in the end. However, this is not the best option.
When you buy a car for $18,000 but then spend thousands more on car rental and towing services , chances are you’re willing to accept any compensation.
Many clients accept the first offer in order to end the matter.
In fact, many manufacturers aware of the haste and nerves of the buyers can lengthen the process with the aim that the person accepts the first offer that is presented to him.
For this reason, the most recommended way to try to recover the money invested is through a lawyer specialized in these cases.
It is not an absolute guarantee, but it is more likely that you will obtain a more favorable solution.
It won’t surprise you to learn that many of the first offers that manufacturers present are usually low offers.
Typically, California lemon law attorneys know how much buyers are getting for each type of vehicle and that is a huge advantage when negotiating.
Have the owners obtained monetary reimbursements? Are they offering you new vehicles in exchange for the lemon cars? These are things that you probably won’t know unless you hire a specialized attorney.
Also keep in mind that if you receive an offer as a result of a class action lawsuit regarding your vehicle, it is best to retain a California lemon law attorney.
You rarely get a good offer through a class action lawsuit, and if you don’t accept it by the deadline, then you may be barred from making future claims.
Instead of accepting a measly offer, hire a specialized attorney.
Can a used car be covered by the Lemon Law in California?
If you have bought a used car , keep in mind that not everyone is protected as there are some conditions that apply regarding the lemon law for used vehicles.
It is essential that the used vehicle is still under warranty in order for it to be covered by the California lemon law.
The warranty can be the original one that came with the car when it was new or a new or extended warranty for a vehicle that has been certified.
A certified pre-owned car that you buy from the dealer is an example of a vehicle covered by the warranty.
However, many used cars have expired warranties. Be sure to request all warranty documents from the seller when you buy a used car.
It is very important that you know that vehicles sold from owner to owner are not covered by this law. It doesn’t matter if the vehicle is still under warranty.
The law only covers consumer goods and unfortunately this excludes vehicles sold by private individuals.
If my vehicle falls under the California Lemon Law, what can I expect?
If your vehicle falls within the provisions of the California Lemon Law, you will be entitled to a refund of the down payment and monthly payments.
It is very important that you know that you will also be entitled to reimbursement for involuntary damages, such as rental cars, repairs and towing expenses.
Some manufacturers offer to replace the vehicle with the same or similar model instead of giving you your money back.
But keep in mind that the manufacturer will be entitled to a credit for the miles the car has been driven before taking it in for repair.
Some warranties stipulate that the manufacturer must also be responsible for legal fees.