What types of problems are covered by the lemon law?

Categories: Lemon Law

Two people looking at broken down car

California has one of the most progressive lemon laws in the nation that ensures vehicle owners’ protection.  Under the Song-Beverly Consumer Warranty Act, if you purchase a defective vehicle, you are entitled to a legal remedy. However, you must prove that your vehicle is a lemon according to legal guidelines. 

A “lemon” is a car, truck, utility vehicle, SUV, motorcycle, RV, or other vehicle type that is defective. Whether the problem started immediately when you drove the vehicle off the dealership lot or it began many months or even years later, the defect is chronic and ongoing, and a dealership can’t seem to fix it. From windows that don’t work to an engine that stalls, to radio problems or electrical defects, there are many types of problems that can render a vehicle defective.

California Lemon Law states that your vehicle’s problems must be “nonconformities,” which are defined as any defect or malfunction that is covered by the manufacturer’s warranty. Nonconformities significantly restrict the vehicle’s:

  • Safety
  • Use, or
  • Value.

There are many defects that could affect the vehicle’s safety, but there is no requirement under the law that the defect must actually endanger you. So, if the car has a defect with its automatic seats, the mere fact that they work unpredictably could be enough to be the basis of a lemon law claim. If it turns out that you do have a lemon, you can either:

  1. have the manufacturer repurchase your vehicle, or
  2. have the manufacturer replace your vehicle.

In some cases, you may also be able to negotiate a cash settlement.  To find out if you have a lemon law claim, contact the California lemon law lawyers at Neale & Fhima for a free consultation at 888-407-2955.  Our firm has a 99% record of success in lemon law cases!

What do lemon laws apply to?

California lemon laws apply to many different kinds of vehicles including:

  • Cars
  • Pick-up trucks
  • SUVs
  • Vans
  • Commercial and fleet vehicles
  • Motor homes (chassis, chassis cab, and drive train)
  • Travel trailers
  • Boats
  • Motorcycles (under Civil Code section 1793.2(d)(1) which covers “consumer goods”).
  • And Much More…
Neale & Fhima has a 99% success rate in lemon law cases.

What qualifies a car for the lemon law?

Every car is different, and the defect you’re experiencing may have been obvious the day after you drove it off the lot or it may have arisen weeks or months or even years after you purchased the vehicle.  It can be big or small, obvious or subtle.  The important thing is that the defect is considered a nonconformity that affects the use, safety or value of the vehicle.

Common defects that affect safety include:

  • Engine issues
  • Steering issues
  • Radio problems
  • Poor acceleration
  • Braking problems (not just squeaking)
  • Fuel gauges and speedometer don’t work
  • Electrical issues
  • Battery dies regularly or drains irregularly
  • Door locks don’t work
  • Transmission issues.

Before being eligible to file a claim, you need to have made a “reasonable number of attempts” to get your new vehicle repaired. While the law is somewhat vague about how many trips to the mechanic constitute a “reasonable number” of repair attempts, you need to give the dealership a sincere opportunity to fix it first before commencing legal action.

What About California’s Lemon Law and Used Cars?

Some used cars are covered under California’s Lemon Law, but not all. Lemon Law protections for used cars are a bit different than for new cars, so the best way to find out if your used car qualifies is to talk to a California lemon law lawyer. He can assess your unique situation and advise you about whether you can file a claim and the chances of being successful.

How Does a Lemon Law Buyback Work?

The process starts by filing a legal claim against the manufacturer. Our attorneys can do this for you. We expect resistance, because auto manufacturers work hard to defeat lemon law claims and reduce financial payouts. But we are aggressive and know how to win. We are not intimidated by the manufacturers’ attorneys, and we are determined to secure the best possible outcome on behalf of our clients. To prevail in a lemon law claim, you will have to:

  1. show that the defect compromises the use, value or safety of your vehicle
  2. make “reasonable attempts” to have a dealership or mechanic repair the defect.

That’s why it’s important that you have proof that you attempted to have the vehicle fixed — keep all receipts, work orders and used parts from each one of your repair appointments.

Is There a Time Limit on Filing a California Lemon Law Claim?

Yes. The statute of limitations under California’s Lemon Law is four years. Generally, the sooner you file, the better. If you have purchased or leased a lemon, start collecting copies of your repair bills and call a lemon law attorney right away. The longer you wait, the more frustrated you will become.

Why Neale & Fhima?

We know there are a lot of lawyers out there, but most are not as experienced or successful in handling lemon law cases as we are at Neale & Fhima.  Our legal team includes the best and the brightest.  We have hundreds of satisfied clients, many of whom have shared their testimonials.

Here are a few of the reasons you should choose us:

  • Years of Experience.  Our attorneys have more than 40 years of combined experience representing clients throughout California.
  • Our Lawyers Win Cases.  Neale & Fhima enjoys a 99% success rate. We think this says a lot about the skill of our attorneys. While we cannot guarantee the outcome of any particular case, you can take comfort in knowing your claim is being handled by lemon law lawyers who have a track record of success.
  • We Value Client Relationships.  High-volume law offices tend to think of clients as nothing more than a case file. The file gets passed around until it ends up with a paralegal or junior associate who just wants to finish it and move on. Neale & Fhima is different. We enjoy getting to know our clients. It also helps us craft settlement agreements that meet their individual needs.
  • We Know the Law.  California’s lemon law is a fine example of how the state legislature can empower consumers. When it comes to clarity, however, the text of the statute leaves much to be desired. Our attorneys understand the quirks of the statute, as well as the many court opinions interpreting it. We put this knowledge to work for you.
  • No Surprises.  A handful of manufacturers control most of the U.S. auto market. We repeatedly go up against these same companies. This allows us to anticipate how they will respond to claims involving specific models and mechanical defects. Our attorneys will share how these insights can impact your claim, so you are never in the dark about what to expect.
  • Free Consultations.  We will always discuss your situation with you in a free initial consultation before you make any decisions about a claim.

Call Neale & Fhima Today

If you are having difficulty with repairs at the dealership, contact our nearest office for a consultation. We have locations in San Francisco, Los Angeles, Dana Point, and San Diego. Or you can call 888-407-2955 to speak with us from anywhere in the state. Either way, the consultation is free. We look forward to serving you.