Our Oakland lemon law attorneys know that our town certainly has its share of new car dealerships, most of them located right downtown on Broadway. This makes comparison shopping convenient. But if you are visiting the city’s dealerships looking for your next vehicle, there is one important factor that may not have occurred to you – how will the dealership treat you if your car breaks down during the warranty period?
Will a Warranty Protect You?
Auto dealers must honor the warranty provided to you by the manufacturer. California’s lemon law takes it one step further, though. Not only must they honor the warranty, but they must do so quickly. Excuses and delays by a dealership’s repair department are no good. If they cannot make the repairs in a reasonable number of attempts, you get a refund or replacement, and they get stuck with the lemon.
Of course, to achieve this outcome, you must be able to enforce your rights. California’s lemon law helps with this, too. It allows you to hire a local Oakland lemon law lawyer at no cost. The law firm of Neale & Fhima provides this service. You can contact us now or keep reading to learn more about the lemon law, as well as some interesting facts about the city of Oakland.
Understanding California’s Lemon Law
When you buy a new vehicle in Oakland, it is appropriate to expect that it will be free of defects. But there are times when even a new vehicle has serious problems. If you need to take your new vehicle under factory warranty into the dealership for regular repairs, you may have a lemon law claim.
The lemon law in our state says that the auto manufacturer or dealership must repair your vehicle, IF the factory warranty is still in place. No, an extended warranty does not count – only the original factory warranty. Many factory warranties cover you for three years or 36,000 miles, but some warranties may give you more coverage. The state law of California notes that the car dealership must have a certain amount of time and tries to fix your car. If they fail to do so, you could have the right to a repurchase or replacement of your vehicle.
The dealership generally must be given at least two opportunities to repair a serious problem that affects the value or safety of the vehicle. For example, if the anti lock brakes are not working, this is a serious safety problem. But if you have a loose cup holder, this is not going to be enough for a lemon law claim. Also, even though a bad paint job does not affect your car’s safety, it DOES affect its value, so this could be the source of a lemon law claim, too. Our lemon law attorneys in Oakland can help. Call us to discuss your claim and learn your options.
You also need to have brought the car to the Oakland dealership at least four times to fix the same problem. And, the vehicle could be a lemon if it has been on the dealership lot for 30 days since you bought it.
California Lemon Law Requirements
Not everyone with a problematic vehicle has the right to demand that the manufacturer take it off their hands. Buybacks, replacement vehicles, and other lemon law remedies are available only if the aforementioned standards are met. Below is more information about these qualifications for having a valid lemon law claim:
- The vehicle is covered. The vehicle must be under warranty when the defect is “discovered.” The law assumes a defect is discovered on the day the owner first brings the vehicle to the dealership for repair. Only warranties issued by the manufacturer qualify – extended warranties and service contracts do not. In most cases, the vehicle must have been purchased or leased from a dealer in California.
- The defect is covered. California’s lemon law applies only to serious defects. The law defines these as defects that substantially impair the vehicle’s use, value, or safety. Most problems that justify repeated trips to the repair department will meet this standard. Note that the defect must involve a part or function of the car covered by the warranty.
- The dealership had the opportunity to make the repairs. Obviously, the owner must give the dealer a chance to fix the vehicle (at no cost to the owner). That is the purpose of a factory warranty. Following the first repair attempt, the dealer is allowed a reasonable number of additional attempts to get it right. What is reasonable depends on, among other things, the danger posed by the defect.
Deadlines and Documentation
Even when these requirements are met, things can still go wrong. A lemon law claim must be documented, negotiated, and resolved prior to the statute of limitations deadline. Occasionally, filing a lawsuit is necessary. Our attorneys can handle these matters on your behalf. It is important to be certain that you are carefully documenting every problem with your car and each trip you make to the dealership. The better you can document your vehicle’s problems, the more likely that you can win a lemon law claim.
Is it Officially a Lemon? Impact on Use, Value or Safety
The Lemon Law in this state is officially called the Song-Beverly Consumer Warranty Act. This law was passed 50 years ago to help Californians to enforce new product warranties. Regarding motor vehicles, this law presumes that the car, truck or SUV is a lemon if, within 18,000 miles or 18 months, any of these events occur:
- The vehicle has defects that could cause death or serious injury, and the dealer has been unable to remedy the problem after at least two repairs.
- The vehicle suffers a serious defect that affects, use, value or safety, and the dealer has been unable to repair it with at least four attempts.
- The vehicle has defects that affect use, value and safety, and the dealer has not been able to repair it after having it in their possession for 30 days.
Making a Lemon Law Claim in Oakland
To determine whether or not your vehicle is a lemon, you need to learn if it is still under the manufacturer’s warranty. Next, you need to know if you have made enough ‘reasonable attempts’ to get the vehicle repaired. Our Oakland lemon law attorneys can help you to determine the answers to both of these questions.
The next step is to file a Lemon Law claim. This is a complicated matter that is best left to an Oakland lemon law attorney. Our attorneys will start the claim by sending the demand letter to the manufacturer of your vehicle.
Note that the statute of limitations under the lemon law is four years. But we never advise that you wait that long to file a claim. If you think that your new vehicle is a lemon, we strongly advise that you speak to an Oakland Lemon Law attorney right away.
If it turns out you do have a lemon, your main options are to have the car maker either buy back or replace the vehicle. But there are other options at your disposal, such as negotiating a settlement in cash.
Regarding legal fees, if the claim is successful, the manufacturer must pay your legal costs. If our law firm does not succeed, you pay nothing. Sound reasonable?
What to Do If You Think You Have a Lemon
If you are getting nowhere with the dealer on repairing the car, we recommend you do the following:
- Write a demand letter to the manufacturer that they buy the vehicle back (our Lemon Law attorneys in Oakland can help you here).
- If the manufacturer refuses to buy it back, hire a Lemon Law attorney, or ask if there is an arbitration program available.
- See whether the manufacturer has an arbitration program by checking with the California Bureau of Automotive Repair Hotline – 1-800-952-5210.
- If it is possible, go to the arbitration hearing personally. You can accept or reject the findings of the arbitration panel. If you do not get satisfaction, you always can opt to file Lemon Law lawsuit through your Oakland, CA, attorney.
Oakland Lawyers Who Appreciate Local History
Neale & Fhima is committed to serving the people of Oakland, and we opened a lemon law office right across the bay to help us do it. We also enjoy discussing the historical events that shaped the city’s character. To us, being an important part of this community means knowing its history. Here are a few of them:
- Native peoples lived in what is now the Oakland area for thousands of years, with little contact from foreigners. This changed in 1772, when Spanish explorers arrived and purported to lay claim to the land on behalf of King Charles III.
- In 1820, the Spanish governor of California issued a land grant to Don Luís María Peralta as a reward for his military service. In addition to Oakland, the Peralta land grant included the surrounding areas of Emeryville, Piedmont, and Alameda, as well as Berkeley to the north and San Leandro to the south.
- Oakland incorporated in 1852, two years after California became a state. This was the Gold Rush period, and people were determined to build wealth fast. The first mayor of Oakland, Horace Carpentier, got a bit too greedy however. In 1855, he was removed from office after arranging to take personal ownership of Oakland’s waterfront.
- The earthquake of 1906 led to a massive influx of new residents from San Francisco. Unfortunately, Oakland experienced a disaster of its own in 1918, when an influenza outbreak killed 1,400 of the city’s residents.
- Oakland experienced strong economic growth during WWII. The shipbuilding, food canning, and rail industries attracted workers from across the United States, particularly the Southwest and the Deep South. These migrations are one reason the city enjoys such a diverse population today.
If you need to speak with a lemon law attorney in Oakland, Neale & Fhima will consult with you free of charge. Message us using the form below, or call (888) 559-4904.