The Dana Point lemon law attorneys at Neale & Fhima take pride in the history of our community. We know life here might seem a bit old-fashioned, and that is fine by us. In fact, it is one reason we choose to practice in the field of lemon law. Not every sale involves a handshake nowadays, but new car buyers have legal rights, and we fight to protect them.

If you purchased a vehicle that is suffering from recurring warranty problems, you may have a claim against the manufacturer. Keep reading to learn more about how California’s lemon law works, as well as some colorful episodes from Dana Point’s history. If you need additional advice, please contact our office.

How Many Chances Does the Dealer Get to Fix My Car?

California’s lemon law, also known as the Song-Beverly Consumer Warranty Act, gives lemon car owners the right to a refund or replacement vehicle. But these remedies are not available at the first sign of mechanical trouble. The auto manufacturer (through its authorized dealer) is allowed a reasonable number of attempts to fix the vehicle before the owner can file a claim.

Determining how many repair attempts is “reasonable” can be tricky. It will depend on the circumstances, including the seriousness of the mechanical problem and whether the problem poses a threat of physical harm to the driver or passengers. It also depends on how long the car has been in use. The following rules of thumb apply to passenger vehicles with less than 18 months/18,000 miles:

If the mechanical problem… The dealer is allowed…
Affects vehicle’s use/value/safety At least 4 repair attempts
Affects vehicle’s use/value/safety & poses risk of injury or death At least 2 repair attempts
Affects vehicle’s use/value/safety & vehicle in repair shop >30 days No additional repair attempts

The guidelines above apply only to cars, light trucks, vans, and SUVs. If you own a different type of vehicle (like a motorcycle), or if your vehicle exceeds the 18 months/18,000 miles limit, we suggest you speak with one of our Dana Point lemon law attorneys to learn whether the dealer is allowed additional chances to make the repairs.

Defects Covered by the California Lemon Law

The law states that auto manufacturers must offer lemon law buybacks for new cars if the manufacturer cannot repair a defect that has a substantial impact upon the

  • use,
  • value, or
  • safety of that vehicle.

Whether the automotive defect has a substantial impact upon these things is an objective test. This means that your opinion about the matter is not considered. It is not enough for you to testify that you think the defect makes your vehicle unsafe to drive.

For a defect to affect your vehicle’s safety, the defect would need to be something that a reasonable person would think is unsafe. Also, regarding affecting the use or value of the car, what is critical is whether a reasonable person would agree that the defect has a substantial effect on use or value. So, some defects in your car that you find very annoying, such as a squeak, loud wind noise, or an AC that takes too long to blow cold air….sorry, these do not qualify for coverage under the lemon law…unless a reasonable person would pay less for the car or would not be able to use the car in a way that a car is usually used.

What Defects Affect Vehicle Safety?

There are many defects that could affect the vehicle’s safety, but there is no requirement under the law that the defect actually endangered you. So, if the car has a defect with its automatic mirrors, the mere fact that they work unpredictably could be enough to be the basis of a lemon law claim.

Common defects that affect safety include:

  • Check-engine lights
  • Steering issues
  • Braking problems (not squeaking)
  • Faulty windshield wipers
  • Fuel gauges and speedometer don’t work
  • Door locks don’t work
  • Won’t start
  • Poor acceleration
  • AC does not work
  • Transmission is not smooth during starting and stopping
  • Battery dies regularly.

How a Dana Point Lemon Law Attorney Can Help You

Whether the defect affects the use of the vehicle also considers whether a reasonable person would conclude that the use of the vehicle is limited. It means that the components of the vehicle need to do what they were designed to do. The brakes need to be able to stop the car within a reasonable stopping distance. The air conditioner must cool the car. The car’s locks must secure the vehicle.

Remember, a defect is required to be covered by the lemon law only if a “reasonable person” would deem it unsafe, or that the defect has substantial impact on the use or value of the vehicle. A Dana Point lemon law attorney who has extensive experience handling these types of cases is your ideal advocate to argue you have the perspective of a “reasonable person.”

‘Use’ under the lemon law accounts for the circumstances of the owner, too. If the defect prevents the seat warmers from working properly, this might not affect use for most of us. But what if the owner has poor leg circulation and the non-functional seat warmers prevent him from driving for more than 10 minutes? Also, poor air conditioning can affect consumers in Palm Springs far more than those who live in San Francisco.

A Few More Facts About California’s Lemon Law

When it comes to consumer rights, knowledge is power. Here are some important rules governing the lemon law claims process that every car owner should know:

  • The lemon law applies to vehicles that are purchased or leased.
  • A successful lemon law claim entitles vehicle owners/lessees to their choice of remedy: a replacement vehicle; a refund (buyback); or, in some cases, a cash settlement.
  • To qualify for lemon law protection, the vehicle’s mechanical problem must be covered by a valid factory warranty at the time of the first repair attempt.
  • Because factory warranties are transferable, used cars may qualify under California’s lemon law.
  • The lemon law covers boats, ATVs, camper trailers, and other recreational vehicles (these vehicles fall within the law’s general provisions that apply to consumer goods).

Client Review of Our Lemon Law Attorney

I would love to give Neale & Fhima more than 5 stars! I had gone to 3 different law firms about a lemon law case and was turned down. I am so thankful I was able to find Neale & Fhima online. I called and with no hesitation Aaron said, “YES, we can take your case!” He answered all my questions and replied in a timely manner. Best customer service I have encountered, from the front end to the attorneys. I highly recommend Neale & Fhima law firm with no doubt! Thank you so much Aaron.

– Evelyn Cardona

Why We Have an Office in Dana Point

First-time visitors to Dana Point are taken aback by the sheer beauty of the place. Steep cliffs overlook the ocean, boats fill the harbor, and a row of elegant homes lies along the beach.

Those who stay even a brief time discover there is more to Dana Point than meets the eye, however. There is a long and fascinating history here – one filled with stories of Spanish missionaries, marauding pirates, and proprietors who dreamt bigger than their pocketbooks.

Sacking of the Mission

In 1776, the same year the Declaration of Independence was signed in Philadelphia, a Spanish priest named Junípero Serra founded Mission San Juan Capistrano a short distance inland from Dana Point. Forty years later, the mission was the site of one of the more notorious incidents in our community’s history.

On December 14, 1818, the Spaniards received word that the French Argentine privateer Hippolyte Bouchard had anchored his ships within sight of the mission, in the cove at Dana Point. A garrison of 30 men were dispatched to meet him. Bouchard demanded provisions for his journey and the Spanish soldiers refused. The soldiers added that they would, however, “supply him with an ample supply of ammunitions” if his ships did not set sail immediately. Bouchard did not take kindly to the veiled threat or the sneering manner in which it was conveyed. He ordered his men to go ashore and loot the mission, which they did.

Cowhides Flying from the Bluff

In the mid-1830s, Dana Point received a visit from another famous sea traveler. This one was not a pirate from Argentina, but a soon-to-be lawyer from Boston. Richard Henry Dana Jr. (from whom our city gets its name) sailed the California coast aboard a merchant ship prior to commencing his legal studies. In his memoir Two Years Before the Mast, he praised this area, calling it the only romantic spot on the coast.

While anchored here, the crew traded their New England goods for local cowhides. Mr. Dana recalled the cowhides being thrown off the bluff to the beach below and then loaded onto the ship.

The Tale of the Arches

Those eager for a glimpse into Dana Point history need look no further than the concrete ruins atop the bluff overlooking the harbor. It was here that Sidney H. Woodruff began construction of a luxury hotel resort in January, 1930. The financial fallout from the Great Depression put an end to Woodruff’s plans, but not before he erected a massive foundation (incorporating large arches that stand today) and an elevator shaft down through the bluff to the beach. Today, the story of the ill-fated hotel is a favorite among locals and newcomers alike.

A New Car Buyer’s Paradise

Just north of modern-day Dana Point, along Camino Capistrano, a string of auto dealerships attracts new car buyers from across the region. All the major dealers are here, including Nissan, Kia, Honda, Toyota, Ford, Chrysler, Mazda, Jeep, Doge, Ram and Volkswagen. Anytime one of these manufacturers sells a defective vehicle to an unsuspecting customer, our law firm can help. Call (888) 995-0283 or tell us about your case using the form below.

We are here to make sure protecting consumer rights never becomes a thing of the past.