Is Your Vehicle Protected by California’s Lemon Law? How the CA Lemon Law Works
You deserve to have a car, truck or SUV that works the way the dealership promised you when you drove it off the lot. If something isn’t working properly under warranty, then knowing the answers to how claims under the lemon law work in California are critical. You want to be able to obtain compensation for the issues and costs that you incurred.
Thankfully, in the Golden State, consumer protection laws are quite strong when it comes to holding manufacturers to their promises, and car makers are no different. If you discover that your vehicle is not working properly while it is under warranty, you may be able to file a claim with or without the help of a lemon law attorney to seek damages. If you win, you will have the ability to get a replacement vehicle or a buyback of your existing vehicle.
When to Use the CA Lemon Law for a Car?
The guidance from the legislature in Sacramento and state courts have made it clear that certain elements must be met in order for you to pursue a lemon law claim. You must have bought or leased the vehicle and, generally speaking, had an issue crop up within the first 18 months or 18,000 miles. You need to have presented the vehicle for repair, and have inspect or repair the vehicle the manufacturer of the issue, which can be accomplished by taking your car, truck or SUV to a dealership or other authorized manufacturer representative and having them inspect the vehicle.
The facts of your particular lemon law claim and the efforts of any legal representative you work with will determine your overall compensation. However, according to state law, you can ask the manufacturer for either a like-for-like replacement (including any special packages or options) or buy back the vehicle and pay reasonable costs, expenses, and attorney’s fees.
This is true of any new or used vehicle as long as it remains covered by a manufacturer’s warranty. However, while there is a state arbitration program, the officials there are seeking an equitable solution for both sides. You may not be able to obtain the same level of compensation concerning rental cars, hotel bills and even the remaining value of the vehicle from the manufacturer unless you are willing to fight for your rights.
Whether you choose to go it alone or with an experienced lemon law attorney, you will need to establish legal grounding that a) there is a defect and b) the manufacturer or dealership was given the opportunity to repair it and was unable. The question for many people, though, is how often do they have to bring their car in to be fixed.
How Many Repairs Before a New Car is a Lemon?
One of the most important things to remember with the California lemon law is that the number of repairs are guidelines. Existing case law has shown that car buyers and lessees often do not have to worry about wasting weeks of their time waiting for someone else to say that their car, truck or SUV will not work the way that the manufacturer said it would.
Still, if you are worried about following the letter of the law, statutes cited by California lemon law attorneys suggest that you should:
- Take your car in for repairs at least two times if the defect could cause life-threatening injuries: this can involve the steering, transmission or engine as well as a number of suspension parts.
- Have the dealership or manufacturer attempt to repair the vehicle up to four times if the defect is not a safety issue. These can include issues with vanity mirrors, stereo systems among many others.
In addition, state law suggests that the vehicle if the vehicle is in the shop for 30 days, it may qualify as a lemon even if it’s one repair or 30 days cumulatively may give rise to a lemon law claim. However, cases involving defective vehicles can vary. A manufacturer’s recall without a fix available could point to a vehicle that will not be repairable, for one example. Often, people do not have to be without their primary mode of transportation for a full month, either, especially people who work.
If you’re unsure of whether or not your car is defective and you deserve compensation, consider working with a lemon law attorney who can help you choose the best path forward. They have the experience in helping determine possible outcomes for your case, and work on contingency so you don’t face upfront costs.