The Song-Beverly Consumer Warranty Act, commonly known as California’s “Lemon Law,” provides important protections for owners and lessees of vehicles that are still covered by the original manufacturer’s warranty. If the dealer hasn’t been able to repair a defect in your vehicle, California’s Lemon Law may apply to your situation.
Do you have a lemon? Unfortunately, this is an all-too-common question that leaves many new and used car buyers and lessees inconvenienced, angry, and in some cases, at risk for serious injury. Despite significant advancements in car design and manufacturing, each year, countless vehicles still come off of the assembly line with defects. These defects can affect everything from brakes to in-car entertainment systems, and in all cases can lead to hassles and frustrations that leave you wishing that you had never set foot on the showroom floor.
California’s Lemon Law requires vehicle manufacturers to repair vehicles under warranty within a reasonable number of repair attempts. If they are unable to do so, the law requires them to either replace or repurchase the “lemon” vehicle. California’s Lemon Law applies to:
What constitutes a “reasonable number of attempts” can vary, depending on the defect and the circumstances involved. There is no set number or formula. However, California’s Lemon Law includes a set of presumptions for determining when an owner or lessee is entitled to have their vehicle repurchased or replaced – whether or not you meet the presumption does not determine if you have a lemon. Think of the presumption as a head start, if you meet it, then under the law you may have somewhat of a headstart in your lemon law claim. As a general (but not absolute) rule, you may be entitled to file a Lemon Law claim if within the first 18 months or 18,000 miles of possession:
As mentioned above, even if you don’t meet any of the above three scenarios, you may still be entitled to file a lemon law claim. If the Lemon Law’s presumptions do not apply, this does not mean that you are prohibited from filing a claim. It simply means that you will need to demonstrate that you have a lemon.
It is important to remember that California’s Lemon Law applies only to repairs during the original manufacturer warranty period, which many times is for 40,000 plus miles and for several years. However, you do not need to file your Lemon Law claim within the warranty period in order to exercise your rights. That said, California’s Lemon Law does have a statute of limitations, and the sooner you act, the easier it will generally be to establish your Lemon Law claim.
As we have mentioned, California’s Lemon Law applies for the duration of the original manufacturer’s warranty of your owned or leased vehicle. The “presumptions” listed above apply during the first 18 months or 18,000 miles of use after delivery. If the Lemon Law’s presumptions do not apply, this does not mean that you are prohibited from filing a claim. It simply means that you will need to demonstrate that you have a lemon.
All new vehicles sold in California are warranted to be free from defects in materials and workmanship. This is commonly referred to as the “original manufacturer’s warranty.” Unfortunately, even during the original warranty period, many manufacturers will fight owners’ and lessees’ Lemon Law claims. They will often argue that a defect is too minor to warrant a repurchase or replacement, and in some cases, they may claim that you are not eligible because you caused the vehicle’s defect yourself. It is important not to give in to these tactics. This is where it becomes especially important to have an experienced attorney on your side.
Continue reading to learn how to exercise your rights under California’s Lemon Law:
At Neale & Fhima, we handle Lemon Law claims throughout Southern California, and our attorneys have successfully tried numerous cases against many of the world’s largest vehicle manufacturers and defense firms. To find out if you have a Lemon Law claim, call (888) 407-2955 or send us your contact information online today.