Use your Warranty Repairs to Prove your Case
The same principle applies with car warranties and California Lemon Laws. You may fit all the criteria to be compensated when your vehicle turns out to be a lemon; but because you didn’t document your repairs, you’re stuck with a broken car and no way to fix or get rid of it except out of your own pocket. That’s why it is vitally important to remember to always document any work that is done under warranty on your vehicle.
To start with the basics, the Federal Trade Commission (FTC) defines a warranty as “a promise, often made by a manufacturer, to stand behind its product or to fix certain defects or malfunctions over a period of time.” The warranty may differ in coverage, length of time or mileage that it extends to. It is important to note here that the repairs do not have to be done at the dealership; the Magnuson-Moss Warranty Act makes it illegal to void a warranty simply because someone other than the dealer did the work. The act does state, though, that, “the manufacturer or dealer can, however, require consumers to use select repair facilities if the repair services are provided to consumers free of charge under the warranty.”
How this applies to Lemon Laws is in the repair. According to the Song-Beverly Consumer Warranty Act, enacted in 1970, a manufacturer is required to repurchase a vehicle if the vehicle could not be fixed after a “reasonable number” of repair attempts.
A vehicle, in this case, is named a lemon if these issues occur within 18 months of purchase or 18,000 miles. According to the California Department of Consumer Affairs, in addition to the time of purchase or miles driven, to qualify as a lemon, the following must have occurred:
- The manufacturer or its agents have made two or more attempts to repair a warranty problem that results in a condition that is likely to cause death or serious bodily injury if the vehicle is driven; or
- The manufacturer or its agents have made four or more attempts to repair the same warranty problem; or
- The vehicle has been out of service for more than 30 days (not necessarily all at the same time) while being repaired for any number of warranty problems; or
- The problems are covered by the warranty, substantially reduce the vehicle’s use, value, or safety to the consumer and are not caused by abuse of the vehicle.
- If required by the warranty materials or by the owner’s manual, the consumer has to directly notify the manufacturer about the problem(s), preferably in writing. The notice must be sent to the address shown in the warranty or owner’s manual (for bullets 1 and 2 above).