- October 27, 2021
- Categories: Lemon Law
While the California Lemon Law is clearly designed to protect consumers, there are certain instances in which a manufacturer may not be required to repurchase or replace a defective vehicle. The most obvious instance is when a vehicle becomes defective because of abuse and neglect by the owner. For example, if an owner never changes the oil or has wrecked the vehicle in an accident, the manufacturer is not liable when the vehicle develops a defect. The owner’s careless actions likely caused the defect and voids the Lemon Law in California.
In another example, if an owner adds after-market modifications and parts to a vehicle after purchasing it, these modifications could be challenged by a manufacturer as a reason why the lemon law should be voided.
Also, California Lemon Law requires that an owner make a reasonable number of attempts to have the defect repaired before filing a claim. Your lemon law claim will be voided if you have not met this threshold for repair attempts.
And finally, if you try to file a lemon law claim after the statute of limitations runs out, your failure to act promptly likely voids the Lemon Law in California in your situation.
The best way to find out whether your vehicle qualifies for California Lemon Law protection is to speak to a skilled and experienced lemon law attorney. At Neale & Fhima, we’ve won countless lemon law claims on behalf of our clients.
How to Determine Whether Your Vehicle Is a Lemon
A “lemon” is a car, truck, utility vehicle, SUV, motorcycle, RV, travel trailer 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 later or even years later, the defect is chronic, and mechanics can’t seem to fix it. From radios that don’t work to an engine that burns too much oil, there are many types of mechanical and electrical problems that can render a vehicle defective. These vehicles have spent too much time at the repair shop and not enough time on the road.
California has one of the most consumer-friendly 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 legally entitled to a refund, or the vehicle can be replaced at the manufacturer’s expense. To determine whether you have a lemon law claim, talk to a lemon law lawyer. 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 before commencing legal action. You should save all of your receipts and work orders from your repair appointments.
California Lemon Law states that your vehicle must have “nonconformities,” which includes any defect or malfunction that is covered by the manufacturer’s warranty. “Nonconformity” is defined by the Tanner Consumer Protection Act as a condition that substantially impairs the use, market value, and/or safety of the motor vehicle to the buyer or lessee. There are many defects that could affect the vehicle’s safety, but there is no requirement under the law that the defect actually endangers you.
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 whether 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 its being successful.
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.
What types of items can affect lemon law claims?
What voids the Lemon Law?
As a recap, some of the most common things that can void the Lemon Law in California include:
- Abuse and neglect by an owner that causes a vehicle defect
- Adding after-market parts and modifications that result in a defective vehicle
- Failure to make a reasonable number of attempts to have the vehicle repaired
- A defect that is minor and does not affect the vehicle’s use, value or safety
- Filing a lemon law claim after the statute of limitations has expired.
Why Should I Choose Neale & Fhima?
We know that there are a lot of lemon law lawyers in California to choose from, but we believe Neale & Fhima stands head and shoulders above the rest. That’s because we have an outstanding pattern of success in handling lemon law claims for our clients! We have a winning track record, and our attorneys are among the best and the brightest. The team at Neale & Fhima is committed to each client’s case, and we give you our full attention.
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 Southern 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 these insights with you from day one, 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.
Contact Neale & Fhima Today
If you have identified a defect in a vehicle that you have purchased or leased, you may have legal recourse under California’s Lemon Law. Depending on the type of defect and when it occurred, you could force a manufacturer to repurchase, replace or compensate you for the vehicle. The skilled and experienced attorneys at Neale & Fhima have a winning track record with these types of claims. We have a 99% success rate in lemon law cases. To find out how we can help you, call us for a free initial consultation at 888-407-2955.