Lemon Law Attorney in California

California Lemon Law FAQ

Suppose your new or used vehicle is experiencing problems that the dealership or manufacturer doesn’t seem to be able to fix. In that case, you might be wondering if you qualify for compensation under California’s lemon laws. Unfortunately, lemon law is complicated, and many consumers fail to take advantage of their rights under the law. In the material below, we answer some of the more common questions consumers have when they first reach out for help with a lemon law claim. For information about your specific case, call our office today to speak with an Orange County lemon law attorney.

California’s lemon law applies to new or used vehicles still under warranty by the manufacturer or dealership/retailer. If your vehicle experiences repeated problems that the repair shop can’t seem to fix or has been in the shop for over 30 days (consecutive or not), it may qualify as a lemon. You can file a claim to receive compensation for your repair costs, rental car, legal fees, and other expenses. In addition, the dealership or manufacturer must repurchase your vehicle or offer you a similar car in exchange for your lemon. However, retailers and dealerships aren’t often happy about complying with these laws. As such, it’s imperative to have an experienced Seal Beach lemon law attorney represent your interests.

Under California’s lemon laws, the vehicle manufacturer or retailer must pay for your legal fees. This means you can retain a lemon law attorney without paying anything upfront. When you receive a settlement or court award for your claim, your attorney will receive payment from those funds.

If you financed or leased your vehicle, you are entitled to receive reimbursement for your:

  • Down payment (or lease inception fee)
  • Government fees
  • Trade­in equity
  • License fees
  • All the monthly payments you have made up to the date of settlement or court award

You may also be entitled to receive towing reimbursement and rental car expenses you paid while your car was in the shop for warranty repairs. The manufacturer must pay off the existing loan or lease, you give the vehicle back to the dealership, and you get a Lemon Law refund check. This process is known as a vehicle repurchase. If your dealership offers it, you may instead opt to take a replacement vehicle. In this arrangement, your vehicle loan or lease stays the same.

If you bought a used car, you should have been given the option to purchase a two-day contract cancellation option agreement. If you buy this agreement, you can return a car within two days of the sale.

However, suppose you didn’t purchase this agreement or bought a new car. In that case, California’s lemon law allows you to return your new or used vehicle to the dealership if you can establish that it’s a lemon with chronic mechanical or electrical defects.

If your new or used vehicle’s warranty has expired when it starts to have problems, you may still have many options. It depends on the specifics of your car, its warranty, and its problems. Your best course of action is to gather your warranty and other paperwork and discuss the situation with a well-versed Orange County lemon law attorney.

You could still have a valid claim. Lemon laws protect consumers as long as the problems occur during the warranty period. However, some consumers may still qualify for lemon law protections even if their vehicle isn’t outside the warranty period. For example, you could have a valid lemon law claim if the initial repair attempt occurred while the vehicle was still covered by the warranty.

A lemon law buyback is when a vehicle manufacturer repurchases a vehicle because it’s a lemon. A repurchase provides a refund of all the money you spent towards the purchase or lease of the car, including:

  • The down-payment
  • All of your monthly payments (including tax and finance charges)
  • A pro-rated portion of your registration, minus a usage fee (the value for the time you drove the car “trouble-free”).

With a repurchase, you are also entitled to reimbursement for any incidental or consequential costs you incurred as a result of your lemon— for example, rental car or towing expenses. In addition, the entire balance of the loan or lease on your vehicle will be paid.

Lemon law vehicles are ones that meet all qualifications under California’s lemon laws. A lemon law car can be one or more of the following:

  • Cars, SUVs, pickup trucks, and vans.
  • The chassis, chassis cab, and drive train of a motor home.
  • Dealer-owned vehicles and demonstrators.
  • Vehicles purchased or leased mainly for business use.
  • Vehicles purchased or leased for personal, family, or household purposes.

Through a warranty, the manufacturer or seller acknowledges that they haven’t made a perfect vehicle or good. Unfortunately, not every vehicle or good is crafted perfectly. As such, vehicle manufacturers or sellers issue a warranty/promise to repair the vehicle if anything goes wrong with it during a pre-determined amount of time. Manufacturers or sellers can have different warranty periods, which can be anywhere from one month to six months to ten years or anywhere in between. Therefore, it’s essential for you to review the terms of your vehicle’s warranty.

In California, a vehicle is presumed to be a lemon vehicle if any of the following happens within the first 18 months or 18,000 miles of purchasing or leasing it:

  • At least four repair attempts are made for the same problem
  • At least two or more repair attempts are made to correct an issue that can result in injury or death
  • Your vehicle is out of service for more than 30 days (consecutive or non-consecutive) for any repairs

Suppose your vehicle meets any one of these criteria. In that case, your vehicle is presumably a lemon, and you are legally entitled to a refund or replacement vehicle.

The dealership may offer you a vehicle replacement if your vehicle is a lemon. You don’t have to accept it, but if you do, you will receive a vehicle of a similar make and model to your lemon model. It will most likely be a vehicle in the current year model. Your lemon vehicle’s current loan amount (or the lease term) will stay the same and have the same duration as your original loan or lease.

Lemon laws are federal and state laws enacted to protect consumers who purchase or lease defective consumer vehicles or goods. Under the law, if a manufacturer can’t repair a vehicle or other consumer good after a reasonable number of tries and it’s a significant defect, they must either replace the defective good or refund the consumer’s money.

To qualify for the lemon law, a car must still be under manufacturer or dealership warranty when the problems began. In addition, one or more of these factors must apply to your vehicle:

  • The dealership or manufacturer has had a minimum of four unsuccessful repair attempts for any problem
  • The dealership or manufacturer has had a minimum of two unsuccessful repair attempts for an issue that could cause injuries or fatalities
  • It is out of service for over 30 days (consecutive or non-consecutive) for any repairs

California’s lemon law covers a repurchase or replacement vehicle. In addition, lemon owners can be reimbursed for additional expenses like those for rental cars or towing as well as legal fees. The best way to ensure that you obtain the full value of your lemon law claim is to work with a California lemon law attorney from the outset of your claim.

Every lemon law claim is unique. Some take as little as 30 days; others can take three to six months. Many factors determine how long a lemon law buyback might take. To help your claim run as quickly and smoothly as possible, it’s imperative to hire a reputable Seal Beach attorney to represent you.

The Magnuson-Moss Warranty Act is a federal statute that can provide financial relief to consumers stuck with defective vehicles, including RVs. Federal lemon law claims involving RVs can include but are not limited to the following:

  • Travel Trailers
  • Fifth Wheel Trailers
  • Class C Motorhomes
  • Class B Motorhomes
  • Class A Motorhomes

Californian RV owners are also protected by state laws. So if you have an RV you think might be a lemon, it’s in your best interest to contact our office today so that you can maximize your protections.

Lemon law vehicle cases can be hard to win. Vehicle manufacturers and dealerships don’t want to invest the time or money to deal with these claims. They will often do whatever it takes to avoid paying or replacing your vehicle. As such, lemon law consumers need an experienced lemon law attorney on their side from the moment they think they might have a lemon vehicle. Taking specific steps will be vital to your claim, and your attorney can help you take these steps, such as documenting your repair attempts.

By hiring an experienced attorney and taking the right steps, you can increase the chances that your lemon law claim will be successful.

Under California law, when you win a lemon law case, you will receive the full contract price of the vehicle when you turn it in, reimbursement for incidental damages, and any collateral costs, such as:

  • Sales tax
  • Finance charges
  • Interest
  • License fees
  • Manufacturer add-ons

If the dealership offers a replacement vehicle, you can elect to take it instead of them repurchasing your vehicle, so you can skip car shopping again.

Unfortunately, many lemon law vehicle owners don’t seek the legal help they need because they don’t believe they can’t afford it. They need to know that there should be no upfront costs or retainer fees when hiring a skilled Orange County lemon law lawyer. Both federal and state lemon statutes require the vehicle’s manufacturer to pay for reasonable attorneys fees and costs or provide a reasonable contribution for attorneys fees and costs when you win or settle your lemon law claim.

Many Californians think automakers destroy lemon vehicles or use them merely for parts. However, this almost never happens. Typically, the manufacturer handles the buyback vehicle by repairing and reselling it. By law, they must add “Lemon Law Buyback” on the vehicle’s title. The dealership selling the vehicle must also tell potential buyers that it is a lemon buyback with typed information to include:

  • The year, make, model, and vehicle identification number
  • What is the nature of each nonconformity reported by the vehicle’s original buyer or lessee
  • What the repairs were to attempt to correct each nonconformity

If you believe you have a lemon law claim in California, you should contact an Orange County lemon law attorney as soon as you can. They can help you gather all your records and ensure you have done everything you can to qualify for compensation under the law. Contact the Law Office of Michael S. Humphries at 562-493-0289 or online to schedule your no-obligation consultation.

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