Qualifying for the California Lemon Law
What Makes a Car a Lemon
When you walk out of a dealership showroom with the keys to your next new car, truck, or SUV, it’s a big moment. It’s also often a significant investment. So if something goes wrong, and it stops working properly, you’ll eventually want to know how a car qualifies as a lemon. In our state, that’s particularly true because owners or lessees of vehicles with defects have significant protections.
In fact, in California, a car maker who has been given the chance to fix your vehicle and been unable to resolve the issue must offer a replacement vehicle that is exactly like yours or compensation equal to the amount of monthly payments, taxes and related fees when you purchased your vehicle. In addition, you may be eligible for compensation for other bills you racked up while unable to use your vehicle, including rideshare costs from Uber or Lyft, hotel bills and the like.
While making things right, legally speaking, is the goal of all consumer protection laws, there are standards that a court or arbitrator will like to see you meet prior to requiring the car maker to pay you back for the cost of the vehicle.
California Lemon Law Eligibility
If you think you have a lemon on your hands, there is a two-step process to assessing eligibility for a manufacturer California lemon law buyback or replacement. When it comes down to determining how does a car qualify as a lemon, you need to ensure that you have proper warranty coverage and that more specifically, the California lemon law requires that claims involve vehicles that:
- Are for personal, family, or small business use;
- Have a gross vehicle weight rating under 10,000 lbs.;
- Are covered by a manufacturer’s warranty or extended warranty; and
- Generally have been driven for less than 18,000 miles or 18 months at the time the defect was found
- Be able to prove the vehicle defect compromises the safety, use, or value of your vehicle;
- Make attempts to have a dealership repair the defect in a reasonable manner.
Once you have brought a vehicle in for service at a dealership, you can begin collecting the paperwork to establish that your vehicle may have a substantial defect, whether it affects safety or not. However, state law and governing cases also establish that you must also give the car maker or its representative, like a dealership, a reasonable opportunity to fix the issue.
In these cases, you will probably have to let them try to fix the problem at least twice, even if there is a safety issue. State law also dictates that they may be provided up to four opportunities to repair the issue prior to beginning a lemon law claim, along with up to 30 days in the shop. If a vehicle is in service for 30 days or more for warranty, that alone may qualify for lemon law rights.
However, those are guidelines and not necessarily required in order for you to pursue compensation for your defective vehicle.
The Song-Beverly Consumer Warranty Act
The Song-Beverly Consumer Warranty Act, commonly known as the California Lemon Law, is a crucial piece of legislation that provides powerful protection to consumers who purchase or lease new or used vehicles with warranty coverage in California. Enacted in 1970, this act aims to address the issues faced by consumers who unknowingly purchase defective vehicles, often referred to as “lemons,” that are repeatedly plagued with significant defects despite attempts at repairs.
Under the Song-Beverly Consumer Warranty Act, if a consumer experiences a defect or non-conformity in their vehicle during the warranty period, the manufacturer or authorized dealer is granted a reasonable number of repair attempts to rectify the problem. If these repair attempts fail to resolve the issue, the law provides the consumer with various remedies. One of the primary remedies is the right to a replacement vehicle or a full refund of the purchase price, including taxes, registration fees, and other related expenses.
This legislation significantly empowers consumers, as it holds automobile manufacturers accountable for the quality of their products and ensures that consumers are not stuck with defective vehicles. By providing the option of a refund or replacement, the Song-Beverly Consumer Warranty Act gives consumers the opportunity to extricate themselves from the burden of a lemon and obtain a functioning vehicle instead. This law has been instrumental in safeguarding the rights of countless consumers in California and serves as a crucial incentive for manufacturers to uphold their commitment to producing reliable and defect-free vehicles.
Possible Defects That Could Lead to a Lemon Law Claim
The California Lemon Law encompasses a range of potential defects that may render a vehicle eligible for a claim, some of which include:
- Frequent and unrepairable brake system malfunctions
- Persistent engine failures despite multiple repair attempts
- Repeated transmission problems leading to potential safety hazards
- Defective steering mechanisms compromising the vehicle’s handling
- Chronic electrical system failures affecting essential functions
- Unresolved air conditioning and heating issues significantly impacting comfort
- Ongoing safety system malfunctions, such as faulty airbags or seat belts
- Severe suspension problems affecting the ride quality and stability
- Persistent issues with the exhaust system, leading to potential environmental concerns
- Continued water leaks and sealing problems jeopardizing the vehicle’s integrity.
The specific circumstances and attempts at repair play a crucial role in determining the validity of a Lemon Law claim in California.
Hiring an Experienced Lemon Law Lawyer in California
The truth of the matter is that you absolutely can use the arbitration process set up by the state of California in order to try and obtain compensation or a replacement vehicle. However, the people that administer that are not fighting for your rights and may not be as up-to-date on current case law as you might imagine.
If you want to obtain the maximum compensation for your frustration when it comes to having a defective vehicle, review your legal options with an experienced California lemon law attorney who has handled these sorts of cases, such as the Law Offices of Jacob K. Kashani. They will be able to outline a plan that gives you the best chance at being made whole, financially speaking, as a result of living with a defective vehicle.
So, if you think that you may have a vehicle that qualifies for lemon law protections, get a no-cost consultation today. The attorneys that understand the law will usually take on cases on contingency. That means that if you don’t win, they don’t get paid, leaving you with little to no risk of hiring an attorney to take on your case.