You are driving along the Pacific Coast, or maybe you are headed into the deepest part of Yosemite Park. Wherever you go to take in the spectacular vistas of California, you expect your vehicle to operate at a peak level. Anything below optimal performance is not satisfactory.
One day, your vehicle suddenly comes up lame like it is a horse struggling with a splintered hoof. You take it into a dealership repair shop to find out your car is in deep trouble. It seems that a major defect in the engine has rendered your car inoperable. You have owned the vehicle for less than a year, which makes the news even more aggravating to take.
What can you do to recover the financial loss caused by a lemon vehicle?
Well, you do not want to seek justice because selling a lemon is not a criminal act that leads to a life sentence. However, California lemon law provides consumers that buy a lemon one or more remedies that help them recover from the financial loss of owning a defective car.
Four Lemon Law Remedies for California Vehicle Owners
According to California lemon law consumers that buy a malfunctioning motor vehicle have four remedies to pursue. First, the manufacturer can either replace the defective car with a new one that is the same make and model or repurchase the lemon by factoring in a mileage offset. Second, you can request that the manufacturer cover the costs of all repair work. Third, the manufacturer can receive a civil penalty up to two times greater than your other monetary damages combined. Finally, a judge presiding over a lemon lawsuit might rule the manufacturer has to cover all your attorney fees.
A Deeper Look into the Repurchase Remedy
If you decide to opt for the repurchase remedy that includes an offset for mileage, you should receive the entire amount of the money that you paid for the lemon. The entire amount of money includes sales tax, as well as license and registration fees. You can ask the manufacturer to return the down payment you made on the vehicle and all the monthly payments that you made up until the day your vehicle qualified as a lemon as defined by California lemon law.
Consumers cannot ask a manufacturer to cover the costs of aftermarket parts produced by another auto manufacturer.
Repurchase Vs. Replacement
Consumers have the right in California to request a replacement vehicle that is the same make and model as the lemon. The manufacturer must cover the sales tax, license fee, and registration fee as well. According to California lemon law, the new vehicle must come with the standard warranty for new vehicles.
Although a consumer wants a replacement vehicle, the manufacturer does not have to agree to the request. California lemon law allows auto manufacturers to deny consumer requests for replacement vehicles and instead, repurchase a lemon to salvage more money out of the deal. California auto manufacturers have grown more reluctant to replace lemons because of the financial disincentive.
Legal Definition of Offset Mileage and Incidental Damages
Look at offset mileage as a form of depreciation for the lemon that you purchased. If you want the manufacturer to buy back the lemon, you receive the price of the vehicle when you paid for it minus a mileage offset that reduces the original price. The more miles you put on the car, the less money you can expect to receive for it when the manufacturer repurchases the lemon.
Even if a consumer chooses not to go with the repurchase or replacement option, California lemon law requires auto manufacturers to pay for incidental damages. Any money a consumer had to spend for fixing defective parts falls on the shoulders of the auto manufacturer that sold the motor vehicle. However, incidental damages do not include lost wages or medical bills. Those costs fall under other California statutes, most notably personal injury statutes.
An Attorney Can Help You Seek a Remedy
Although most lemon law attorneys operate on a contingency fee basis, the attorney fee provision written into California lemon law should be one of the motivating factors that get consumers on the phone with lemon law attorneys. As one of the remedies given to consumers that purchased lemons, the attorney fee provisions also motivates lawyers to get as much for their clients as allowed by California lemon law.
If you purchased a lemon, contact an experienced California lemon lawyer to determine which of the legal remedies offered by California lemon law works best for your unique claim.