A “lemon law” is a consumer protection law designed to provide recourse for individuals who have purchased or leased defective vehicles, often referred to as “lemons.” These laws require manufacturers to repair, replace, or refund the vehicle’s purchase price if it has significant defects that cannot be fixed after a reasonable number of repair attempts.
California’s Lemon Law, also known as the Song-Beverly Consumer Warranty Act, protects consumers who have purchased or leased new or used vehicles with serious and irreparable defects. Here, the California Lemon Law Attorneys at Conn Law, P.C. have answered the following frequently asked questions that consumers may have about the Golden State’s Lemon Law, how a vehicle might qualify, and what you might be entitled to if you purchased a lemon.
What is California’s Lemon Law?
California’s Lemon Law is a set of consumer protection laws that require manufacturers and other warrantors to honor their warranties for vehicles sold or leased in the state. If a vehicle or other consumer product is defective and covered under an express warranty, the manufacturer or warrantor is required to repair it. If they cannot fix it after a reasonable number of attempts, they must either replace the product or refund the purchase price.
The Song-Beverly Consumer Warranty Act, which encompasses the California Lemon Law, ensures that consumers who have purchased or leased defective vehicles receive fair compensation for their troubles.
How Does a Car Qualify Under California’s Lemon Law?
For a car to qualify as a lemon and receive protection under California’s Lemon Law, it must meet specific requirements. These requirements include:
- A manufacturer’s warranty must cover the vehicle.
- The vehicle must have a defect that substantially impairs its use, value, or safety.
- The manufacturer or dealer must have made a reasonable number of repair attempts to fix the defect.
Additionally, the California Lemon Law Presumption states that if certain conditions are met, it will be presumed that a reasonable number of repair attempts have been made. These conditions include:
- The vehicle has been taken in for repairs at least twice for the same defect within the first 18 months or 18,000 miles, whichever occurs first, and the defect is likely to cause death or serious bodily injury if the vehicle is driven.
- The vehicle has been in for repairs at least four times for the same defect within the first 18 months or 18,000 miles, whichever occurs first.
- The vehicle has been out of service for a cumulative total of more than 30 days within the first 18 months or 18,000 miles, whichever occurs first.
How Do I File a Lemon Law Claim In California?
When filing a lemon law claim in California, following the steps to ensure a smooth and successful process is crucial. Here’s how to file a lemon law claim in the state:
Step 1: Prepare the claim:
- Keep thorough documentation of all repair orders, invoices, and correspondence with the dealership or manufacturer.
- Maintain a record of all repair attempts, including dates and the nature of the defects.
Step 2: Initiate the claim:
- Consult with an experienced lemon law attorney to help navigate the process and ensure the best possible outcome.
- File a complaint with the California Department of Consumer Affairs if necessary.
Step 3: Resolve the claim
- Negotiate a settlement with the manufacturer or dealership, which may include a buyback, replacement, or reimbursement.
- If negotiations are unsuccessful, consider arbitration or litigation with the help of your lemon law attorney.
How Does The Lemon Law Work In California?
Under California Lemon Law, consumers have certain rights when dealing with defective vehicles. These rights include –
- The right to have the manufacturer or dealer repair the vehicle.
- The right to a replacement vehicle or a refund if the manufacturer cannot repair the vehicle after a reasonable number of attempts.
The manufacturer or dealer is responsible for the following:
- Providing a warranty for the vehicle.
- Repairing or replacing the defective vehicle per the warranty.
The remedies available to consumers under the state’s Lemon Law include:
- Repairs – The manufacturer must repair the vehicle in a timely manner.
- Replacement – If the manufacturer cannot repair the vehicle, they must provide a comparable replacement.
- Refund – If the manufacturer cannot repair the vehicle or provide a replacement, they must refund the purchase price, including taxes, fees, and any down payment, minus a reasonable allowance for use.
Does California Lemon Law Apply To Private Sales?
California Lemon Law primarily applies to vehicles purchased or leased from dealerships or manufacturers. However, in some instances, it may also apply to private sales. In these cases, the protections offered by the Lemon Law may be limited, and consumers should exercise caution when purchasing a vehicle through a private sale. Inspecting the vehicle thoroughly and obtaining a vehicle history report to ensure you’re making an informed decision.
Does The Lemon Law Apply To Used Cars In California?
Yes, California Lemon Law applies to used cars if they are still under the manufacturer’s warranty. The law also applies to certified pre-owned vehicles and vehicles sold with a dealer warranty. However, the extent of protection offered may vary depending on the warranty terms, vehicle age, and mileage.
What Vehicles Are Covered By California Lemon Law?
California’s Lemon Law covers a wide range of vehicles, including:
- New vehicles
- Used vehicles (under manufacturer’s warranty)
- Leased vehicles
- Motor homes (excluding those designed for commercial use)
What Is California’s Lemon Law Buyback and Other Remedies?
Under California Lemon Law, consumers are entitled to various remedies if their vehicle qualifies as a lemon. These remedies include:
- Lemon Law Buyback – The manufacturer repurchases the vehicle, refunding the purchase price, taxes, fees, and down payment minus a reasonable allowance for use.
- Repurchase – Similar to a buyback, the manufacturer repurchases the vehicle and compensates the consumer for the down payment, monthly payments, and other related expenses minus a reasonable allowance for use.
- Replacement vehicle – The manufacturer provides a comparable vehicle to replace the defective one.
- Reimbursement – The manufacturer compensates the consumer for any out-of-pocket expenses related to the vehicle’s defects, such as towing or rental car fees.
Being aware of various factors that may affect the outcome is essential when dealing with a lemon law case. These factors include:
- The vehicle’s warranty period – The manufacturer’s warranty must be in effect for the Lemon law to apply.
- Repair attempts – The number of repair attempts and the time the vehicle has been out of service due to repairs can influence the outcome of a lemon law claim.
- Service contracts – Extended warranties or service contracts may offer additional consumer protection but are not subject to the same requirements as a manufacturer’s warranty.
- Business use – Vehicles purchased or leased primarily for business use may not be covered by California Lemon Law.
- Auto manufacturers – Different manufacturers may have varying policies and procedures for handling lemon law claims.
- Dealership responsibilities – Dealerships are crucial in facilitating repairs and communication between the consumer and the manufacturer.
- State of California regulations – California Lemon Law is subject to state regulations, and any changes to these regulations can impact consumer rights and protections.
Contact a California Lemon Law Lawyer
If you purchased a vehicle with significant defects and are having trouble getting it repaired, it might qualify as a “lemon” under California’s Lemon Law. Fortunately, the law protects consumers like you, and with the help of an experienced Lemon Law attorney from Conn Law, P.C., you could get your vehicle repaired, replaced, or fair compensation issued to you. Contact us today by phone or fill out our quick contact form to find out if you have a lemon.