If you’ve purchased a problem car, you may find yourself asking: How does a car qualify for lemon law in California?
The last thing anyone wants is to climb into their new vehicle, drive it home, and start experiencing problems. For some, these problems can be devastating. Many people rely on a well running car to make it to work on time and to transport their family. If you’ve put everything into purchasing what you thought would be a reliable family vehicle, then getting a problem car can be devastating. Thankfully, there are laws in place to protect consumers who’ve purchased an automobile with ongoing issues.
If you’ve purchased a new, used, pre-owned, or certified vehicle that is covered by the manufacturer’s warranty, then rest easy. Laws are in place to ensure you don’t have to suffer with a vehicle that spends more time in the shop than on the road. The California Lemon Law gives legal protection to consumers who purchase or lease a vehicle still under the manufacturer’s original factory warranty or with a certified extended warranty. Under this law, owners of defective vehicles (also known as lemons) meeting the lemon law requirements are entitled to compensation. This compensation can come in the form of a replacement, refund, or cash.
The California Lemon Law includes new and used vehicles purchased or leased for personal, family, or household use. It also covers new and used vehicles with a gross weight below 10,000 pounds and used for a business with five or fewer registered vehicles. Of course, as described above, it also covers new and used vehicles purchased with a written warranty. The California Lemon Law also includes vehicles that have already been identified as lemons but were repurchased by the manufacturer, repaired, and resold with a warranty.
The law will protect the consumer for the entire length of the manufacturer’s warranty. If the vehicle has a certified extended warranty from the manufacturer then the protection period is extended as well. For example, if your vehicle has a two year warranty and you discover a defect one year after the warranty starts, you are covered. This means that the manufacturer is required by law to either replace the vehicle, repurchase it, or compensate you if the vehicle meets the requirements of California Lemon Law.
The vehicle defects must not only meet the requirements of the lemon law, but the manufacturer is allocated a reasonable number of repair attempts to repair the vehicle. In California, there’s a four year statute of limitations on filing a lawsuit for breach of warranty.
California Lemon Law allows the manufacturer and authorized dealers a reasonable amount of time to correct the defect. They are allowed a number of attempts to repair the problem vehicle before they must repurchase or compensate the vehicle’s owner. The number of attempts and allotted time to repair the vehicle depends on whether or not the defect is a safety issue.
California Lemon Law kicks in when there have been at least two attempts at fixing a serious safety defect. This could include a serious problem that can result in injury or death, such as brake failure. If the problem recurs then it’s reasonable that the owner will not feel safe using the vehicle. Manufacturers get four or more attempts to repair a non-safety related issue. The exact number depends on the specific problem.
Manufacturers must also repurchase the vehicle or compensate owners if the number of repair attempts exceeds a reasonable amount, or if the vehicle is in for repairs for more than a total of thirty days.
There are certain instances when a manufacturer does not have to refund or replace the vehicle. California Lemon Law becomes void if the defect is a result of abuse occuring after the consumer purchases the vehicle.
The first thing you’ll want to do is reach out to a California Lemon Law Attorney. They will be able to help you understand your rights and evaluate your case. It’s not uncommon for manufacturers to fight back against lemon law claims. Thankfully, most lemon law attorneys will work on a contingency. This means you won’t have to pay out of pocket fees and will still have a great chance of success.
Keep any and all repair information pertaining to the vehicle and the specific issue. A paper trail will strengthen your case. Documentation should include a copy of the repair order stating the vehicle’s problems and repair history. It’s a good idea to make copies of these documents and store them in a safe place. You should also provide copies of your warranty as well as all correspondence with the manufacturer. It’s also a good idea to track any additional expenses associated with the vehicle’s problems. For example, if you need to rent a car.
It’s important that you notify the manufacturer of the defects. They may have a process in place to handle lemon law claims. California Lemon Law protects consumers. However, it’s important you speak with an attorney to fully understand your rights and responsibilities.
In addition, tell your attorney if you feel as though the dealership has been deceptive about the condition of the vehicle prior to purchase or the repairs. If this is the case then you may also have a case for Auto Fraud. Your attorney will evaluate all claims and provide you with your options and potential outcomes.