Buying or leasing a new or used car is a significant investment. But when your relatively new car encounters too many repairs, and you have trouble fixing them, it may be a lemon. You will need a competent lemon law attorney to resolve your issue.
Before going into the details of how to pursue a lemon law case, here are some things to understand.
What Is a Lemon?
The California Lemon Law defines a lemon as a vehicle that
- Has substantial defects occurring within a specific time after signing the lease or purchase
- The manufacturer’s warranty covers the said repair issues
- Continues to have the same flaws even after a reasonable number of attempts to fix them.
Your car could be pre-owned or new, purchased or leased in California.
Under the California Lemon Law, the reasonable number of repair attempts for an issue is three or four times. For more severe concerns that can cause death or serious injuries, this number is two or more.
Furthermore, if your vehicle remains at the dealership for 30 or more days due to repair concerns, you can qualify under the California Lemon Law. However, these defects should present themselves
- within the first eighteen months after you own the vehicle or
- before it clocks 18,000 miles, whichever occurs first
What Outcome Can You Expect from the Claim?
As per the lemon law in California, you can either receive a refund or replacement for the lemon upon winning the case. If you request a replacement, you can get another vehicle of the same value from the manufacturer. Or, you can receive a check for the purchase amount if it is a buyback situation.
However, there may be certain deductions from the original amount. These include missed loan payments, mileage offset, and after-market add-ons like an updated stereo system.
Process of Filing Your Lemon Law Claim
You need to compile some documents before submitting your claim. They act as proof for your vehicle’s major mechanical problems that could not be resolved after repeated attempts.
During this investigation process, provide your lemon law attorney with:
- Sales documentation
- Warranty and extended coverage
- Paperwork about the vehicle’s poor performance
- Repair history, service logs, and other relevant statements
The deadline to file your claim is four years from the date of the breach of warranty. In simple words, the statute of limitations is four years from the date of the manufacturer’s failed repair attempts.
Tips to Prevail in Your Lemon Law Case
How long your case takes to settle depends on various factors, including automotive problems. But most cases settle before going to trial.
During this process, be careful to avoid:
- Being rude with the manufacturer’s representatives
- Portraying the company badly on social media
- Threatening them to hire an attorney
- Stopping repair attempts as there was trouble diagnosing the issue
- Voiding the warranty by getting unauthorized repair shops to work on the vehicle
Manufacturers will fight for as long as they can and deny their fault in the mechanical issues. Besides, they may argue that the defects are not substantial, and hence, do not qualify. With an experienced California lemon law attorney fighting for your rights, it becomes much easier to win.
Your lemon law lawyer can advise a settlement and offer counsel but cannot accept payment on your behalf. You, the consumer, alone will have the right to decide if the compensation is satisfactory.