“It’s one, two, three strikes you’re out at the old ball game.”
As the ending to a timeless song about baseball, three strikes for a pitcher is a good thing. However, the same cannot be said about an auto dealership and manufacturer that has struck out three times when trying to repair a motor vehicle.
California lemon law requires car manufacturers to offer lemon buybacks to the customers that own a new car, truck, or SUV. The buyback mandate goes into effect after a “reasonable number” of attempts to fix a defect that has made a motor vehicle inoperable. For customers that want a car manufacturer to buy back a lemon, the term “reasonable number” of attempts becomes the focal point for lemon lawsuits.
Although a California appellate court defined the number of reasonable attempts to repair a car in California, the ambiguity boils down to the word “reasonable.” What may be reasonable to an auto dealership might not appear to be reasonable to a customer. This is the sticking point in a large number of California lemon law claims that can be unstuck with the legal advice provided by a California consumer protection attorney.
What is the Reasonable Number of Repair Attempts?
One of the biggest misconceptions about California lemon law concerns how many times an auto dealership has the chance to repair a lemon vehicle. Many consumers that have purchased a lemon believe a state statute requires a minimum of four repair attempts. California lemon law does not specify how many attempts a car dealer has to fix a lemon. The answer to the question “What is the reasonable number of repair attempts” comes down to the decision made by a judge overseeing a civil lawsuit.
The Role of California Appellate Court
California appellate courts have heard many cases that involved the question of ‘what is the reasonable number of repair attempts.” Some of the legal reasoning behind the decisions made by California appellate courts stems from the statute of limitations for filing a lemon law claim. In 2003, the California Second District Court of Appeals ruled that a car dealership has a minimum of two “reasonable number of attempts to repair a lemon vehicle. The California appellate court defined the minimum number of reasonable attempts, but the court did not define what “reasonable” means.
Three Legal Presumptions for California Lemon Law
California lemon law has established three presumptions that define when a motor vehicle qualifies for a buyback. It is important to remember that the three presumptions simply establish legal guidelines, but in no way has the California court system set the three guidelines in stone. Some cases might justify a lemon buyback for a motor vehicle that has undergone fewer than two repair attempts.
Moreover, the three presumptions only work for lemon buyback claims that the manufacturer has not created an informal dispute resolution process or the consumer has initiated the manufacturer’s informal dispute resolution procedures.
Nonetheless, the following three guidelines provide civil court judges with a road map on how to rule on buyback cases.
- A car dealership or manufacturer has made at least two repair attempts within the vehicles first 18,000 miles or 18 months of use to fix a defect that most likely will cause death or serious bodily injury
- There have been four or more reasonable repair attempts for the same defect within the first 18,000 miles or first 18 months of use
- A motor vehicle has undergone repairs that have kept it out of service for 30 or more days during the vehicle’s first 18,000 miles or first 18 months of use
Get Help from an Experienced Lemon Law Attorney
California lemon law paints a picture of how many attempts a car dealer or manufacturer has to repair a lemon. However, state statutes do not clarify what “reasonable” means. Does reasonable mean the number of attempts or a reasonable effort to fix the malfunctions of a lemon vehicle? If it is the latter, then what does reasonable mean in this context?
The answer to the “reasonable” question might not be clear, but a California-licensed lawyer can review your case to determine whether the auto dealership or manufacturer put the work in required to fix your lemon. Going through the motions with a repair job does not cut it for customers that are stuck with a lemon.
Get in touch with a California lemon law attorney to start the claim process.