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California Lemon Laws: What You Need to Know

  • By:sierralit

California has passed multiple laws that protect consumers against unscrupulous merchants that sell inferior products and services. The California Consumer Legal Remedies Act (CLRA) covers most consumer products, from defective toasters to inoperable lawnmowers. However, the State of California has created a separate class of consumer protection laws that apply to vehicles. If you spend an inordinate amount of time waiting for your vehicle to receive repairs and maintenance service, you might have a lemon on your hands.

Overview of California Lemon Law

Lemon law in the State of California typically covers new vehicles that possess “serious defects.” The statutes that protect consumers against new vehicle malfunctions place time and mileage limits for consumers to pursue cases under California lemon law.

The Song-Beverly Warranty Act classifies a vehicle as a lemon within 18 months of the vehicle’s delivery to a consumer or if the vehicle has less than 18,000 miles displayed on the odometer.

Here are some other qualifications for vehicle lemons:

  • The vehicle has not run for 30 days or more because of repair issues
  • Vehicle defects not caused by owner
  • The manufacturer has tried to make repairs to a warranty issue at least four timeS
  • The manufacturer has attempted at least two times to make repairs on a warranty-covered problem that could result in the owner suffering from a serious injury or death

California consumers that own a lemon can ether request that the manufacturer replace the lemon vehicle or give a refund for the price of the purchase of the lemon.

How to Handle a Lemon Law Case

If you purchased a vehicle from a dealer that refuses to take care of a defective new vehicle, you should turn to the vehicle manufacturer for resolution of the matter. Send a letter to the manufacturer explaining the problem and requesting that the manufacturer buy back the vehicle. Send a certified letter through snail mail, with a return receipt included. A California consumer attorney is qualified to prepare a legally sound demand that will outline your legal rights and possible next steps. Some manufacturers balk at buying back lemons. If you encounter a difficult to deal with manufacturer, you have two legal recourses to seek compensation for your lemon.

Two Legal Recourses for Consumers

Consumers have two legal methods for pursuing lemon law cases in the State of California: Arbitration or litigation.

Arbitration

California consumers can hire an attorney and pursue arbitration if they provide evidence of trying to settle the lemon dispute with a manufacturer. You can also seek arbitration if the dealer or manufacturer refuses to repair the problem, which significantly hinders the performance and/or safety features of the vehicle. Above all, the problem(s) that have created a lemon must be covered by the original manufacturer warranty.

Arbitration does not cost you any money and an arbiter’s decision is not legally binding for consumers in the State of California. You do not need to hire an attorney, but if an arbitration decision goes against you, the second legal recourse you have involves hiring a licensed attorney.

Hire an Attorney

A licensed California lemon law attorney understands the details of every statute that protects consumers against deceit and fraud. Your lemon law attorney manages the case, as well as seeks the highest award amount possible that penalizes the dealership and/or manufacturer. Taking your lemon law case to court typically results in a much quicker decision than if you submitted the case to arbitration. An attorney also gives you more negotiating power in case the dealer or manufacturer wants to settle the case out of court.

Contact our law firm today to turn your lemon into a high-performance vehicle. We offer an initial free consultation to determine the legal strength of you lemon law case.

Posted in: Consumer Fraud, False Advertising, Lemon Law