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California lemon law is strong and protects consumers from the financial burden and inconvenience of purchasing a vehicle that fails to conform to its warranty. But there are many misconceptions surrounding lemon law claims that may prevent those with defective cars from taking legal action. It's essential to have a basic understanding of the facts regarding California lemon law to potentially avoid missing out on the compensation you deserve.
Here are ten common myths surrounding the lemon law in California:
California's Lemon Law doesn't just cover cars, but a wide array of vehicles can qualify for its protection. SUVs, motor homes, boats, pickup trucks, and vans may all be covered by the lemon law in California if they were purchased for personal use or family purposes in the state. The lemon law also covers leased vehicles. Business vehicles are also covered so long as the vehicle’s gross vehicle weight is under 10,000 pounds and the business has no more than five vehicles registered in California.
This is a prevalent misconception. A lemon law claim does not necessarily need to be filed while the vehicle is still under warranty. However, to prevail in a lemon law case, you must be able to establish that the defect arose during the time that the vehicle was under warranty. Additionally, you have four years from the date you discovered your vehicle was a lemon to commence a lawsuit.
California lemon law specifically applies to defects covered by the warranty that substantially impair the use, value or safety of the vehicle. Many types of defects can give rise to a lemon claim, including transmission problems, brake defects, steering issues, faulty airbags, software malfunctions, and more. You may also be able to invoke the lemon law if your vehicle was in the repair shop for a total of 30 days or more.
If your car is still under warranty, it's crucial to bring it to an authorized dealership for any repairs that must be made. If you attempt to fix the issue by yourself or bring it to a mechanic that is not one of the manufacturer’s authorized dealerships, you could void the warranty and later be ineligible for a remedy under the lemon law. Be sure to keep all receipts, invoices, and documentation for every repair attempt because this can later be used as evidence in your lemon law lawsuit.
Just because a vehicle has been recalled does not make it a lemon. When a recall is issued, this means that the manufacturer has identified a problem that can usually be repaired with a replacement part or software update. In many cases, these repairs are made on the first attempt. In contrast, a lemon vehicle is one that experiences persistent problems and issues that cannot be repaired regardless of how many times it is brought to the repair shop.
In California, the law presumes that a vehicle is a lemon if the defect that cannot be repaired arose within the first 18 months of the vehicle's delivery or the first 18,000 miles driven. While the lemon law presumption can make it much easier to prevail in a lemon law claim, you can still file a lawsuit outside this time frame. In fact, you may qualify for the protection of the lemon law if the defect arose at any time the vehicle was under the original manufacturer's warranty.
In addition to new cars, California's lemon law also applies to used cars and leased vehicles. However, it does not cover cars that have been damaged as a result of abuse by the owner. Importantly, the used vehicle must still be under the original manufacturer's warranty, which generally transfers to a subsequent owner.
You must provide the manufacturer a reasonable number of opportunities to make repairs to your vehicle in order to bring a lemon law claim. Usually, four repair attempts will be considered enough. But if the defect involves a safety issue that could cause serious injury or fatality, only two trips to the repair shop may be necessary to prove your lemon law case.
Often, vehicle manufacturers encourage arbitration as a faster way to resolve your lemon case. These programs are usually more advantageous for the manufacturer, rather than the consumer. Significantly, if the outcome of the arbitration is not in your favor, the adverse ruling may be admissible in court if you subsequently choose to litigate your claim. In many lemon cases, litigation can result in a more favorable outcome for a consumer.
Not just any attorney has the knowledge necessary to handle a lemon law claim. These types of cases require specific insight concerning the strategies and tactics the manufacturer will use in an effort to get your lawsuit dismissed. It's critical to have a California lemon law attorney on your side who understands the nuances of the lemon law and how to build a solid case.
Dealing with a lemon vehicle can cost a considerable amount of time and money. If you bought or leased a new or used car within California that doesn’t conform to its warranty, you might be eligible to assert your rights under the lemon law. Offering knowledgeable counsel and skilled representation the California Lemon Law attorneys at The Ledbetter Law Firm will work to achieve a positive outcome — and obtain the replacement vehicle or refund to which you’re entitled.
The Ledbetter Law Firm helps clients throughout Southern California who have purchased lemons obtain the refund or replacement vehicle they deserve from the manufacturer. With offices conveniently located in Torrance and San Diego, California, telephone and video conferencing options are also available. Call (310) 878-0067 to schedule a consultation with a California Lemon Law attorney today.