Our nation’s Declaration of Independence reminds us that all persons are created equal. Too bad that doesn’t always work for cars and other vehicles. In California and elsewhere, far too many should be painted bright yellow because they’re lemons. In many instances, however, the owner or lessee of a vehicle has some measure of protection under California’s Lemon Law.
Generally speaking, if your new or used vehicle is still covered by a manufacturer’s warranty, you have rights if the repair issues related to your vehicle cannot be fixed within a reasonable time and in a reasonable number of visits to “the shop.” Often, the key to recovery, however, is how well you have documented the facts. Here are some tips to help you prevail under California’s Lemon Law.
Dear Diary: Get it Down on Paper and in Detail
While this may sound somewhat compulsive, on your way home from the dealership, after taking delivery of your new or used vehicle, you should stop at some appropriate store in order to make a special purchase. You’ve invested thousands of dollars in a vehicle; spend one more dollar to get a little notebook in which you can document the performance of your car. You won’t know it’s a lemon until later, so get the notebook now!
Anytime you have a problem with the vehicle, write it down. Anytime you take the vehicle in for service, write it down in detail. This is particularly important for repeat visits for the same maintenance issue.
Carefully Examine the Dealer’s “Diary”
Not only is it important to keep your own detailed records about service issues related to your vehicle, you need to review the documentation that the dealer makes at the time of each visit. Accordingly, each time you pick up your vehicle following service, take the time to review the papers that your detail provides. Did the dealer actually address the service issue you described when you brought the vehicle in? Most dealers are reputable, but all dealers know the Lemon Law and some unscrupulous dealers will try to doctor the paperwork in the dealer’s favor. If there is any discrepancy between your own paperwork and that of the dealer, get it resolved before you leave.
Don’t Be Part of the Problem
Remember that the California Lemon Law doesn’t protect you if (a) the problems associated with the car are caused by abuse after delivery to the consumer, or (b) the terms of the vehicle’s warranty for maintenance and proper use are not followed. Don’t let your own operation of the vehicle sink your Lemon Law claim. Get your oil changed regularly. If the warranty requires a dealer inspection after 90 days, get that inspection. Don’t give the dealer and manufacturer an excuse to avoid their true responsibility.
Lemon Law Claims Require Experienced Legal Counsel
If you feel as if you are driving a lemon instead of a properly constructed vehicle, you may well have recourse against the dealer and/or the manufacturer. In most cases, skilled legal counsel is required to navigate the provisions of California’s lemon law. The law firm of Neale & Fhima, LLP stands ready to assist you. Working in Dana Point, San Diego, and Los Angeles, our firm is dedicated to providing excellent legal representation to those with Lemon Law claims. We have obtained countless Lemon Law settlements for consumers throughout the state against nearly every car manufacturer. We have even helped clients get punitive damages against auto manufacturers for their intentional malfeasance. Request a free consultation by calling us at 1-888-407-2955 or complete our online form.