Our San Francisco Office

If you’ve been stuck with a lemon and don’t know where to turn, consider the San Francisco lemon law attorneys at Neale & Fhima.  No one should be burdened with repeatedly taking their new car to a mechanic, trying to figure out what’s wrong with a newly purchased vehicle. Catching a ride with a friend, taking a taxi or making a call to Uber are not things you want to be doing while making payments on a new vehicle that’s perpetually stalled at the mechanic’s garage.  Fortunately, California has strict lemon laws, and there may be a legal remedy for you that will enable you to be reimbursed or replace your lemon.

Why Should I File a Lemon Law Claim?

Few people enjoy being involved in a legal dispute. But when it comes to persuading a multibillion-dollar car company to do the right thing, the threat of a lawsuit may be what it takes. Fortunately, Neale & Fhima’s lemon law clients rarely step foot inside a courthouse. In fact, if you prefer, we may be able to consult with you entirely by telephone and email.  For a free initial consultation about your case, contact a San Francisco lemon law attorney at (949) 661-1007.

Here are some additional reasons why Bay Area residents with a valid lemon law claim should assert their rights:

Driving a lemon vehicle is dangerous.

Today’s automobiles are loaded with high-tech safety features. Like any new technology, these systems can experience problems, putting the safety of drivers and their passengers at risk. Even basic automotive functions like steering and braking can cause serious accidents when they do not work properly. Do not get stuck driving a vehicle with a dangerous defect. File a lemon law claim and insist that the manufacturer buy back the vehicle or provide you with a new one.

Your time is valuable.

With so many fun things to do in San Francisco, the waiting area of a dealership’s repair department is no place to spend your free time. California’s lemon law gives dealerships a “reasonable” number of chances to perform warranty repair work correctly. If they take too long, it is time to contact Neale & Fhima and begin the lemon law claims process.

Filing a claim makes financial sense.

Purchasing a new vehicle is a significant financial investment. When that vehicle begins to have mechanical problems, it can bring on an extreme case of buyer’s remorse. There is no need to feel bad about acquiring a defective vehicle. The manufacturer is to blame – not you. Our lemon law attorneys can help you get your purchase money back.

You can hire Neale & Fhima to represent you for free.

Did you know that the lemon law in our state contains a fee-shifting provision? Of all the unique aspects of California’s lemon law, this provision has probably done more to benefit consumers than any other. Here is how it works. If you win your lemon law claim, we collect our legal fees directly from the car company. If your claim is unsuccessful, we waive our fees and you pay us nothing.

If you fail to act now, it may be too late.

Do not let the fact that California has a consumer-friendly lemon law give you a false sense of security. If you wait too long to act, you will forfeit your rights forever. The most crucial deadline is your factory warranty expiration date. Regardless of when you discovered the defect, you must take your vehicle to the dealership for repair before the warranty expires. Doing so (and obtaining a copy of the work order to prove it) will preserve your right to file a claim if the dealer is ultimately unable to make the repairs.

Advantages of a San Francisco Lemon Law Attorney

Some consumers think about representing themselves in a legal case and ask, “How hard can it be?”  Unfortunately, the answer is “it’s pretty complicated.”  An experienced San Francisco lemon law lawyer can be your best advocate in a case like this.  Years in and around legal briefs and courtrooms give a skilled attorney an added edge in winning lemon law cases. An attorney can do in hours what it might take a consumer weeks to read, write and file.  You’ve already got your hands full with a car or SUV that’s unreliable.  Let the San Francisco lemon law attorneys at Neale & Fhima handle the legal end of things on your behalf.  Call for a free consultation at (949) 661-1007.

New-Car Lemon Law Explained

The California lemon law was established in the Song-Beverly Consumer Warranty Act.  It covers all kinds of new motor vehicles, including SUVs, pickup trucks, motor homes, sedans, sports cars, vans and convertibles with a manufacturer’s new-car warranty, as long as …

  • It weighs less than 10,000 pounds and was bought by a person or company for business use, or
  • It was bought for personal, recreational or family use.

Also, the vehicle must have been …

  • Bought or leased at retail in California, or
  • Purchased by active-duty military personnel who live in or are stationed in California when the claims are made.

When you talk to a San Francisco lemon law attorney, many of your questions will be answered and, in turn, we’ll have the opportunity to ask you some important questions about your case.  Contact Neale & Fhima at (949) 661-1007 for a free informative conversation.

Used-Car Lemon Law Explained

Even used cars are covered by California’s lemon law as long as you have one of the following three warranties.  If you purchased the car “as is,” then regrettably that means you bought it without warranty or lemon law rights. The same is true for buying vehicles that are covered only by the dealership’s extended service agreement – no lemon law claim is allowed.

To assert a used-car lemon law claim, you must have one of the following three warranties:

  • Transferred new-car warranty. Every new car has a warranty from the manufacturer. When the title changes hands (the vehicle is sold) and time remains on the new-car warranty, then the remaining coverage will transfer to you. Be aware, though, that some auto manufacturers put limits on what transfers.
  • Certified, pre-owned warranty (CPO). These warranties cover used vehicles that were inspected, repaired, refurbished, cleaned and resold by the vehicle manufacturer. Terms of the CPO warranty are almost always less extensive than the new-car factory warranty.
  • Lemon law buyback warranty. A successful lemon law claim means a dealer has to buy back the lemon. To reduce losses, the manufacturer will fix the car and then resell it to someone else. To legally resell it, the manufacturer has to label it prominently as a “LEMON” and offer at least a 12-month, 12,000-mile warranty.

For California’s lemon law to apply, a new or used vehicle must be bought at retail.  Cars bought and sold in private two-party transactions are not covered by lemon law protection.

But if you made a private-party purchase of a vehicle that is still under factory warranty, it’s still worth having a conversation with a San Francisco lemon law attorney.  Give Neale & Fhima a call at  (949) 661-1007.  We still may be able to file a claim on your behalf, IF the original owner is willing to execute an assignment of their lemon law rights to you.

What If My Car Is a Lemon, But I’ve Also Been in a Fender Bender?

This can be tricky.  A dent or problem from a car accident makes it much harder to file a lemon law claim, even if the vehicle has been a clunker from the day you bought it.  That’s because a manufacturer could claim that the vehicle’s problems were caused by your accident – not their engineering and assembly.  The moral of the story is – DON’T WAIT.  If you know you have a lemon in the first few months of owning a car, take steps quickly to begin the required repair attempts and file a lemon law claim.  The longer you wait, the more stale your claim becomes and the more chances there are to encounter complicating circumstances.  Take action.  But, even if you have been in a fender bender and your car has been a lemon from the very start, go ahead and give a San Francisco lemon law lawyer a call at Neale & Fhima.  It never hurts to try!

How Much Is My Lemon Worth?

California’s lemon law offers up a formula that can be used to calculate the value of your lemon law claim for the purposes of repurchase or replacement.  Here’s how it works:

  • Divide the odometer reading (when you started bringing it in for repairs) by 120,000.
  • Then multiply that number by the purchase price of your vehicle.
  • Then subtract that number from the original purchase price.
  • That’s the replacement/repurchase value of the vehicle.

So, for example, if you paid $38,000 for your car and you started bringing it in for repairs at 7,000 miles, then the replacement/repurchase value of your lemon would be $35,783 (which represents a $2,217 reduction for the 7,000 miles of depreciation).

Am I Covered By the Lemon Law If I Bought My Vehicle Out of State?

California’s lemon law explicitly excludes vehicles purchased in one of the other 49 states.  It applies only to new and used vehicles bought at retail in California with an approved type of warranty.  However, you still may have a legal remedy for your lemon.  The federal lemon law covers all vehicles purchased anywhere in the United States.  In 1975, U.S. lawmakers passed federal legislation with provisions similar to those in California’s lemon law.  It is called The Magnuson-Moss Warranty Act.  A San Francisco lemon law attorney can help you determine how this protection might apply to your situation.

What If I Don’t Have the Money to Hire a Lawyer?

You’re in luck!  Filing a lemon law claim in California requires no money from you; and no matter what happens with your claim, you will not owe any money in the future.  Making a claim is virtually free for a consumer.  That’s because California’s law contains a “fee-shifting” provision.  This means a car manufacturer pays your attorney’s legal fees if we win.  If for some reason we do not win, we waive our fees and you pay nothing.  Sound good?

Lemon Law Lawyers in San Francisco

California’s lemon law has continued to evolve since it was first enacted nearly 50 years ago. The legislature amends the statute periodically, and the courts hand down opinions interpreting its meaning. What we have now is a complex set of rules that can present problems for even the most business-savvy vehicle owners in San Francisco. The good news is that Neale & Fhima recently opened an office in the heart of the city. To learn whether your vehicle qualifies as a lemon, contact our office at (949) 661-1007 or submit the form below.