At Neale & Fhima, our California lemon law attorneys have years of experience helping clients win their Lemon Law claims. This includes obtaining favorable settlements and defeating many of the major manufacturers (and their teams of defense lawyers) in court. California’s Lemon Law provides important protections, but they mean nothing unless you decide to assert your rights. Further delay can hamper your ability to bring a successful claim. Contact our office now or continue reading to learn how the Lemon Law works.
Under the Song-Beverly Consumer Warranty Act, better known as California’s Lemon Law, individuals and small businesses that purchase defective vehicles are entitled to a refund of nearly all their money (down payment, monthly payments, etc.) or, if they choose, they can have their vehicle replaced at the expense of the manufacturer.
At Neale & Fhima, our California lemon lawyers take on the major auto manufacturers to enforce Lemon Law rights on behalf of clients throughout Orange County, Riverside County and across the state.
What do you do if your vehicle has a recurring mechanical problem? You have been to the dealership – maybe several times – and it is clear they do not know what to do. Your vehicle is still under warranty or has just come off warranty, and no one knows how to fix it. Are you stuck with a lemon? Or is there something you can do?
Under California’s Lemon Law, defects that substantially impair the use, value or safety of a vehicle must be repaired within a “reasonable number of attempts.” If the manufacturer is unable to do so, then it must offer a “lemon law buyback.” This can be either a full refund of the purchase price (less certain deductions permitted by the law, as explained below) or a replacement of the vehicle with another one that is materially identical.
The value of your lemon (for purposes of replacement or repurchase) is subject to a reduction for your use of it. The amount to be deducted from its value is found by dividing the odometer reading by 120,000, then multiplying it by the purchase price. So, let’s say your vehicle cost $30,000 when you bought it, and you started bringing it in for repairs at 12,000 miles. To make up for depreciation caused by those 12,000 miles, your lemon law award would be reduced by $3,000.
“I had a lemon case and I am so happy I went with them. They settled the case FAST and EFFICIENTLY. Answered all my questions, no matter how stupid. Great communication through the whole case, I was always informed & he always answered my calls. Aaron is amazing & I could not be happier!!!” – Amberlee Ritchey, 5 / 5 ★★★★★
For many Americans, buying a new car is one of the greatest experiences one can have. When you drive away from a dealership in a shiny, new vehicle, you take great pride in your purchase. You show it off to friends and family, you take extra-long routes to your destination just to enjoy the ride, and you know that the vehicle is going to be reliable – after all, you just paid a hefty sum for a brand-new car.
But then the unthinkable happens. Shortly after you buy your new car, it starts to show signs of trouble. Check-engine lights are flashing. Strange sounds start humming from the engine, and you can tell that something is not quite right. So, you finally break down and take it to the shop to get it repaired. But the problems continue. After repeatedly trying to get the thing fixed, you’re now starting to realize that something is seriously wrong with this vehicle…
All 50 states and the federal government have enacted some type of lemon law to protect consumers. In California, the statute is known as the Song-Beverly Consumer Warranty Act (relevant portions of the law are also known as the Tanner Consumer Protection Act). The text of the Lemon Law can be found at California Civil Code sections 1792 to 1795.8. The California lemon law attorneys at Neale & Fhima have extensive experience with the Song-Beverly Act, and they are available if you have any questions about specific provisions of the law.
Not all defective cars fall within the parameters of the Lemon Law. It generally applies to newer cars that the dealership has been unable to fix, but the law is quite detailed with respect to the specific qualifications.
If the vehicle and defect qualify under California’s Lemon Law, the owner has two primary remedies with respect to the manufacturer:
California’s Lemon Law assumes that drivers will bring their vehicles in for service immediately upon noticing a serious mechanical problem. As such, the manufacturer does not need to credit a car owner for anything prior to the date of the first service attempt. This is true regardless of whether the vehicle is repurchased or replaced.
The amount of the use reduction is calculated by dividing the odometer reading by 120,000, and then multiplying it by the purchase price. The formula can be expressed as follows:
[Odometer at first repair attempt ÷ 120,000] × Purchase price = Use Reduction
For example, if a vehicle cost $30,000 and the owner brought it in for repair at 12,000 miles, the Lemon Law award will be reduced by $3,000.
It is nearly impossible to win against an opponent if you don’t know the rules of the game, but your opponent does. California’s Lemon Law, though effective, has plenty of holes in the fine print that you aren’t aware of, but the dealers know them, and seasoned California lemon law attorneys do, too.
Lawyers who win lemon law claims are paid by the dealer, not by the vehicle owner. So what have you got to lose?
The qualities that our clients have told us they appreciate include the following:
We settle most Lemon Law cases without our clients’ ever having to step into our office. If you live near one of our offices in Dana Point, San Diego, or Los Angeles, we welcome you to come meet with us in person to discuss your Lemon Law claim. If you live in Irvine, elsewhere in Southern California or nywhere within the state, we can handle your free consultation and case evaluation over the phone.
Figuring out how many chances the dealership’s repair department should get to fix a defect is never easy. Fortunately, the law creates a presumption in favor of the car owner if a certain number of repair attempts are made (or the vehicle is in the shop for a certain number of days) during the first 18 months or 18,000 miles.
A solid understanding of the claims process will help you make informed decisions about your case. Enforcing your legal rights under California’s Lemon Law involves multiple steps – from sending a demand letter to evaluating settlement options and (if necessary) preparing to litigate in court.
While every state has a Lemon Law, California’s version stands apart. It is widely considered one of the most favorable consumer protection laws in the country for purchasers of defective vehicles. Individuals and businesses seeking to enforce their warranty rights should be aware of nine key facts that make California’s Lemon Law one of a kind.
Once you are ready to begin the claims process, there are nine steps you can take to prepare for your California Lemon Law claim. These steps include finding out how to document your defect, collecting your repair records, and preparing for your free attorney consultation.
Everyone dealing with a defective new car has one thing in common – they all have questions that need to be answered. At Neale & Fhima, we may not be able to tell you why your car manufacturer failed to put better quality control measures in place, but we can answer some of the most commonly asked questions about California’s Lemon Law.
Serving California’s legal needs for over 35 years. We have a 99% success rate and have successfully obtained thousands of settlements and verdicts for our clients.
Biting into a lemon leaves a sour taste in your mouth – and so does paying hard-earned money for a new car that does not work properly. Even worse, a serious mechanical defect can put the safety of you and your passengers at risk. Our firm has obtained countless lemon law settlements for consumers in California against nearly every auto manufacturer.
Request a free consultation by calling a California lemon law attorney at Neale & Fhima at (888) 407-2955, or take a moment to complete our online consultation form. Together, we can take a stand against the car company and get your money back.