While vehicle troubles are undoubtedly frustrating, they are par for the course of vehicle ownership. In most cases, when a repair is necessary, you must foot the bill yourself. However, in some cases you may find relief through California’s lemon laws.
Per California lemon law, a vehicle manufacturer may have to replace a vehicle or issue a refund if a vehicle is plagued with issues or, in other words, is a “lemon.” How do you know if your car qualifies, though? Debt.com explains what makes a defective vehicle a lemon.
The defect substantial reduces your vehicle’s value
It is difficult to sell a vehicle that’s engine stalls every time it reaches 50 miles per hour, or that’s battery needs jumped every time it sits for more than eight hours undriven. If your vehicle’s defect makes it impossible for you to sell it or to receive fair market value, you may have a lemon on your hands.
The defect is a serious safety hazard
Some defects pose nothing more than a minor nuisance. Others make driving the vehicle downright dangerous. For instance, windows that do not fit snuggly against the rubber door stoppers may be annoying, but they will not hurt you. However, an engine that stalls at random could put you at risk of a potentially fatal collision. While lemon laws vary from state to state, most protect consumers against life-threatening defects.
The defect persists after repair attempts
Most states allow consumers to file a lemon law claim if they make a certain number of reasonable repair attempts to the same vehicle. To file a claim in California, a vehicle owner must provide proof of two or more repair attempts to a warrantied vehicle problem that poses a threat to the safety of vehicle occupants if driven. If the defect is not life threatening, the owner must show proof of four or more repair attempts to the same problem.
Additionally, if you have been unable to drive your car for 30 or more days because it is in the shop for repairs for warrantied problems, you may have a claim. The 30 days do not have to be consecutive.
The defect occurs within the specified timeframe
Finally, the defects must occur within a certain period of time. In California, your vehicle must meet the aforementioned criteria within 18,000 miles or 18 months of receiving the car, whichever comes first.