What is the California Lemon Law?
The California Lemon Law is a consumer protection statute. While it covers a wide array of products, it is most often used by purchasers of defective vehicles. In essence, the law provides that if a manufacturer is unable to repair a defect that substantially impairs its, use, value or safety within a reasonable number of attempts, it must repurchase or replace the vehicle.
How do I know if my vehicle qualifies under the California Lemon Law?
The first thing you must do is present your defective vehicle for repair. If the manufacturer or its dealership cannot repair the defect after a reasonable number of attempts, then your vehicle may qualify for repurchase under the California Lemon Law.
What is a “reasonable number” of attempts?
While there is no magic number, if your vehicle has not been repaired within three or four attempts, it could qualify under the California Lemon Law. If the defect is safety related, your vehicle could qualify in as few as two repair attempts.
What is a “substantial” defect?
The California Lemon Law applies to defects that are “substantial.” Any defect affecting a vehicle’s drivability – such as the engine or transmission – would be considered substantial. However, vehicles are equipped with many different features that could be defective and create a substantial impairment. These include air conditioning and heating systems, navigation, windows, convertible tops, warning lights, Bluetooth, radio and many others. In sum, any vehicle feature which fails could give rise to a substantially impairing situation.
Does the California Lemon Law apply to used vehicles?
If the manufacturer’s warranty was still in effect at the time of purchase, then the California Lemon Law can apply to a used vehicle.
Does the California Lemon Law apply to leased vehicles?
Yes. The California Lemon Law applies to both vehicle purchases and leases.
What can I recover if my vehicle qualifies under the California Lemon Law?
If you vehicle meets the qualifications of the California Lemon Law, you can receive a refund of your money. This is sometimes referred to as a “buyback” of the vehicle. The refund consists of all payments made toward the purchase or lease of the vehicle including the down payment and all monthly payments. If the vehicle is financed, the manufacturer also pays off the remaining loan balance. You are also entitled to recover all related out of pocket expenses such as rentals, towing, repair costs and DMV registration.
What about attorneys’ fees?
If your vehicle meets the qualifications of the California Lemon Law, the manufacturer is required to pay your attorneys’ fees. Our firm does not require any up-front retainers or fees. If there is no recovery, you will not be responsible for any attorneys’ fees.