The Vehicle Lemon Law in San Diego, California

San Diego is the eighth-largest city in the United States and second-largest in California, and is famous for its beaches, parks and warm climate. Immense Balboa Park hosts the celebrated San Diego Zoo, numerous art galleries, artist studios, museums and gardens. San Diego boasts one of the finest climates in North America, according to the Farmers’ Almanac. The Weather Channel names it as having one of the two best summer climates in America.

San Diego has been a center for the U.S. military for generations. Camp Pendleton, north of the city, is the primary West Coast U.S. Marine depot and home to the First Marine Division. And the city’s deep harbor is home to the largest naval fleet in the world, which includes most of the U.S. Navy Pacific Fleet’s surface ships (53), many of the U.S. Coast Guard and Military Sealift Command vessels, and tens of thousands of sailors. The USS Midway Naval Museum, anchored in the harbor, welcomes visitors year-round.

Gaslamp is the heart of San Diego’s nightlife and features more than 100 of the city’s finest restaurants that surround the Padres baseball team’s Petco Park. Ocean Beach, with its famous pier, always draws visitors, as does the original Hodad’s, home of the best burger in town!  And La Jolla is a pretty beach town where it’s fun to watch the seals as they visit the cove, and to wander the offbeat beachfront galleries, surf shops and outstanding restaurants (footwear optional on the outdoor verandas).

Is Your Vehicle a Lemon?  You Don’t Have to Live With it.

California’s Song-Beverly Consumer Warranty Act – the California Lemon Law – protects vehicle owners when auto dealerships are unable to repair their cars within the warranty period.  It requires the car maker to either refund to the buyer the money paid AND pay off the outstanding loan balance or to replace the vehicle with a comparable model.

The Lemon Law also requires the auto manufacturer to pay the vehicle owner’s legal fees. This helps car owners receive every penny of their award and not have to pay their lawyer a contingency fee.

Types of Vehicles and Defects Covered by the Lemon Law

Not all defective cars are covered by the Lemon Law. To qualify under the lemon law:

  • The vehicle must have been under a manufacturer’s warranty (new or certified pre-owned) when the first repair attempt is made. If you bought the vehicle “used,” the manufacturer’s warranties are transferrable. So, if that used car has an unexpired warranty, it’s likely covered. Your attorney can confirm this fact.
  • The gross weight of your car, truck, van, SUV, or other passenger vehicle must be under 10,000 pounds. “Transportation-related parts” (drive train, suspension, etc.) of a motor home also qualify. Motorcycles, boats, and other recreational vehicles qualify as well. Ask us during your free consultation.
  • The vehicle must have been purchased or leased in California. There is an exemption for active members of the armed forces living in California at the time of the claim, even if the vehicle was purchased in another state.

The defect must be covered by a manufacturer’s warranty (also known as a “factory warranty”) when at least some of the repair(s) were made. Additionally:

  • The “defect” must substantially (and objectively) impair the vehicle’s “use, value, or safety.”
  • Repairs have been unsuccessful after a “reasonable number” of attempts by an “authorized dealer.” The number of attempts varies case by case. However, courts have ruled that one attempt is never sufficient; but they have ruled that a repair attempt occurs each time the customer brings the vehicle into the dealership for that purpose, regardless of whether or not the dealership actually tries to effect repairs.

Here’s What You have a Right to Ask for

Under the California Lemon Law, the vehicle owner has two primary remedies with respect to the manufacturer:

  • The manufacturer must refund the amount of money paid for the vehicle, including finance charges, fees, cost of factory options, shipping, taxes, DMV fees, and out-of-pocket costs for repairs, towing, and rental cars. The total amount can be pro-rated based on the customer’s use of the vehicle prior to the first attempt to repair the defect.
  • The customer can elect to replace their vehicle with a new one that is similarly equipped and free of the defect cited in the Lemon Law claim. The manufacturer must pay the taxes and other fees associated with the replacement. Both customer and manufacturer must agree to the replacement remedy. If the manufacturer insists on a repurchase (refund), the customer must accept that option.

We continue to win numerous Lemon Law settlements for San Diego consumers against virtually all auto manufacturers. We will be happy to provide a free consultation if you call Neale & Fhima at (888) 559-4904 or fill out our online consultation form.  And remember, the manufacturer pays our fee when we win.  So either way, you pay nothing for our services.