How to file a lemon law claim in California

How to file a lemon law claim in California

If it turns out you bought a lemon and are looking for a legal remedy, you likely have a lot of questions. One question may be about how to file a lemon law claim in California. Here are 7 steps to take:

  1. Hire a skilled lemon law attorney to represent you.
  2. Review the original manufacturer’s warranty to determine if the defective parts are covered.
  3. Take your vehicle to an authorized dealership to have it repaired.
  4. Save all receipts, work orders, and spare parts from each repair attempt.
  5. Ask your attorney to send a letter to the manufacturer to commence a lemon law complaint.
  6. Allow your attorney to negotiate aggressively on your behalf.
  7. Choose your remedy – a buyback or a replacement vehicle.

This is a broad outline of how to file a lemon law claim in California. Of course, the lemon law statute is complex, so a skilled attorney at Neale & Fhima can explain additional actions to take in greater detail.

Why choose Neale & Fhima to represent you?

At Neale & Fhima, we bring more than 40 years of experience to fighting for lemon law clients in Southern California. We have many satisfied clients, and our outstanding legal team will impress you with their compassion and professionalism. Attorney Aaron Fhima has a keen legal mind, and we are proud of our outstanding record of success in winning cases.

  • We Know the Law.California’s lemon law is a true example of how the state legislature can empower consumers. When it comes to clarity, though, the text of the statute can be vague and confusing. For consumers, the statute may seem hard to understand or filled with legal jargon. Our lemon law attorneys understand the quirks of the statute, and the many court opinions interpreting it. We put this knowledge to work for you.
  • No Surprises. A handful of manufacturers control the auto market in the U.S. We repeatedly go up against the same companies. Some of the largest are Ford, Toyota, GM, Chrysler, and Honda. Luxury automakers are also included. Our skill and experience allows us to anticipate how manufacturers will respond to claims involving specific models and mechanical defects. Our lemon law lawyers will share these insights with you from Day One, so you are never uncertain about what to expect.

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Neale & Fhima has a 99% success rate in lemon law cases.

How long does a California lemon law case take?

Depending on the complexity of the case, a lemon law buyback or replacement can occasionally be resolved in as little as 30 days, though often these cases take 90 to 180 days. Simple cases typically resolve quickly, though more complex cases can take more time. Your lemon law lawyer can give you a better time estimate after reviewing the particulars in your case.

How long do you have to file a lemon law claim?

The statute of limitations for a lemon law claim in California is four years from the date a consumer knew or should have known the vehicle was a lemon. This doesn’t mean that if you have had your vehicle for more than 4 years, you cannot bring a lemon law claim. Our attorneys have successfully “lemoned” vehicles that are more than 10 years old. However, if you’ve purchased or leased a lemon, you’ll want to start the buyback/replacement process as soon as possible. The sooner you begin, the better. Once the statute of limitations has passed, a judge may dismiss your claim. Don’t worry about our attorney’s fees — these are paid by the manufacturer as part of a successful lemon law claim.

The sooner you start your lemon law claim, the better. A skilled attorney at Neale & Fhima will work aggressively to make sure you meet the statute of limitations deadline.

Additional Questions You May Be Asking

We understand that you may have additional questions about how the California Lemon Law works, so we’ve put together a list of questions and answers here.

Does the lemon law cover used vehicles?

It does in some cases, but not others. The lemon law will cover used vehicles purchased in retail transactions that have one of three types of warranties: (1) transferred new car manufacturer’s warranty, (2) certified pre-owned vehicle warranty, or (3) lemon law buyback warranty. If you purchased your used car in a private sale, you will likely not qualify for lemon law protection. If you find yourself in a situation where your used vehicle is problematic, consulting a vehicle accident lawyer can help you understand your legal options.

How many repair attempts am I required to make?

Depending on the severity of the defect, the number of repair attempts required can vary. If the defect causes life-threatening dangers, then as few as two repair attempts could be adequate. If the defect is less serious, you could be required to make as many as four repair attempts or more. Your lemon law attorney can advise you.

Do I need to document my repair attempts?

Yes, absolutely. Save all receipts, work orders, and spare parts from each repair attempt at the dealership so you can prove you made a reasonable number of attempts to get your vehicle fixed.

Are motorcycles covered by the lemon law?

Yes, motorcycles are covered. The California lemon law is broader than you might think. The lemon law not only covers cars and trucks, but it also covers SUVs, vans, RVs, travel trailers, motor homes, boats and other watercraft. If you’ve had issues similar to those you might consult a motorcycle accident lawyer for, such as consistent mechanical problems, this law is applicable. It also covers some appliances.

Are electric vehicles covered by the lemon law?

Yes, absolutely. The California lemon law covers electric vehicles and their batteries. This includes all the major auto manufacturers as well as Tesla.

Where can I find state government resources explaining the lemon law?

The California Department of Motor Vehicles publishes a Car Buyer’s Bill of Rights explaining your legal protections. If you believe you were talked into buying a lemon due to dealer fraud, you can file a Record of Complaint Form with the DMV or contact the Office of the California Attorney General.

What kinds of defects are covered by the lemon law?

Defects covered must negatively impact the (a) use, (b) value, or (c) safety of your vehicle. Defects include a wide variety of electrical and mechanical problems, such as problems with:

  • Steering
  • Seats
  • Engine
  • Brakes
  • Mirrors
  • Windows and doors
  • Airbags
  • Paint
  • Exhaust system
  • Lights.

This is not an exhaustive list. A skilled lemon law attorney
can assess your vehicle’s defect and advise you about the potential success of your claim.

Who pays my attorney fees?

In a successful lemon law claim, the vehicle manufacturer pays your attorney fees.

What are my options for a remedy?

You get to choose the option that works best for you. Potential remedies include (1) a lemon law buyback, (2) a replacement vehicle, or (3) a “cash and keep” option.

Is it hard to win a lemon law claim?

The skill of your attorney can go a long way in determining the success of your claim, so you want to choose a lawyer who has years of experience and a winning track record. Also, your ability to win a lemon law claim will be determined by the nature of the defect, meeting the deadline, and showing that you made appropriate repair attempts.

What defects are not covered by the lemon law?

There are a handful of things that cannot be claimed as qualifying flaws. Some defects that are not covered include: abuse and neglect by an owner, the addition of after-market parts, damage from a collision, damage caused by hail and inclement weather, and repairs made by someone other than an authorized dealer.

Do you have more questions? We’d be happy to answer. Call us at 949-661-1007.

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Our attorneys have a combined 40 years of experience. Our lemon law lawyers understand the quirks of the lemon law statute. We put this knowledge to work for you.

Talk to a Lemon Law Attorney Today

If you are frustrated because your car, truck, or SUV is a lemon, take action now. You could have a legal remedy through a lemon law claim. Some manufacturers will try to fight owners’ and lessees’ lemon law claims, but we’ll hold their feet to the fire. They’ll argue that a defect is too minor to warrant a repurchase or replacement, or they might claim that you are not eligible because you caused the vehicle’s defect yourself. Don’t give in to these tactics. Make sure you have a tough and aggressive lemon law attorney by your side.

The experienced lemon law lawyers at Neale & Fhima have helped hundreds of clients pursue a lemon law buyback or get a replacement vehicle under California’s lemon law. We will negotiate aggressively with the auto manufacturers and stand up for you. To find out more about how we can help, call us for a free consultation at 949-661-1007.

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Attorney Aaron Fhima

Aaron Fhima, California attorneyAaron Fhima is a trial attorney who has secured numerous settlements and verdicts against large corporations and some of the largest auto manufacturers in the world. Representing consumers and injury victims throughout the state of California, Aaron’s practice areas include personal injury, and lemon law litigation. Aaron has a long record of success taking on large defense firms; and he doesn’t hesitate to take cases to trial when necessary to enforce his clients’ rights. [ Attorney Bio ]