When is a Car a Lemon?

Categories: Lemon Law

Woman calling about car

You’ve probably heard the slang term “lemon” thrown around in conversation when a person is referring to a product, vehicle or deal that turned out to be a dud.  But in all seriousness, you may be looking for a more specific definition when you ask yourself: “When is a car a lemon?”

Turns out California has a very specific definition and series of criteria when determining whether a car is a lemon.  All of this is codified into the California Lemon Law, otherwise known as the Song-Beverly Consumer Warranty Act.

A “lemon” is a car, truck, SUV, RV that has a chronic defect and effects the vehicle’s use, value or safety. Whether it’s a defective transmission, improperly functioning brakes, the radio not working properly or a wide range of other mechanical and/or electrical problems, these vehicles are problem vehicles that do not function correctly.

If this sounds like your situation, then you’re probably in need of a skilled California Lemon Law attorney.  Rather than getting stuck with a dud, take action and pursue a legal remedy.  To find out what your rights are and the remedy you may be entitled to, contact Neale & Fhima for a free consultation at (949) 661-1007.

We have a 99% success rate with lemon law cases!

How do you know when a car is a lemon?

To determine whether you have a Lemon Law claim, check to see whether your vehicle is still under the original manufacturer’s warranty or if the vehicle’s repairs were performed under warranty. If so, you probably have a claim.  And remember, the lemon law applies to both new and used vehicles.

To bring a successfully lemon law claim, you need to have made a “reasonable number of attempts” to get your vehicle repaired before filing a legal claim. State law doesn’t specify exactly how many visits to the repair shop constitute a “reasonable number of attempts,” but it does offer some guidance.

To prevail in a California Lemon Law claim, you will have to prove that you made repair attempts it will be helpful to have all receipts, work orders and used parts from each one of your repair appointments. The California new-car Lemon Law says you may have an eligible vehicle in the following circumstances:

  • The automobile had a minimum of two repairs attempted for a defect that could lead to death or serious injury if it is driven.
  • You brought the vehicle to the dealership at least four times to remedy the same defect.
  • The automobile has been at the dealership for repairs of the same defect for at least 30 days since you acquired it.

If your vehicle falls into any of those guidelines, you should talk to a lawyer at Neale & Fhima today. But even if your vehicle does not fall into the above guidelines, you may still have a claim!

The Lemon Law in California stipulates that to qualify for a claim, your vehicle must have “nonconformities,” which are defined as any defect or malfunction that is covered by the manufacturer’s warranty.  Nonconformities compromise the use, value or safety of the vehicle. Find out more in: Do You Have a Lemon?

What kind of defects affect vehicle safety?

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. Common defects that affect safety include:

  • Check-engine lights
  • Braking problems (not squeaking)
  • Steering issues
  • Fuel gauges and speedometer don’t work
  • Door locks don’t work
  • Faulty windshield wipers
  • Poor accelerate
  • Transmission is not smooth during starting and stopping
  • Engine Malfunction
  • Transmission Malfunction
  • Vehicle failing to start
  • Battery dies regularly.

These are just a few of the types of defects that could qualify.  If your vehicle has a different defect, a skilled lemon law attorney can advise you about whether you have a claim.

How do I initiate a lemon law claim?

The first step is to determine that your vehicle was repaired under warranty — remember, service contracts do not count. Then, check your paperwork to determine whether you have made at least two attempts to repair the same problem.

Then the legal process starts by filing a claim against your vehicle’s manufacturer.  Our lemon law attorneys expect resistance from large auto manufacturers who don’t want to pay claims or replace vehicles, so we are aggressive and relentless when representing our clients.  You need to act fast, though, because the statute of limitations under California’s Lemon Law is four years. Find out more in: The Lemon Law Claims Process.

What remedies can I get by filing a legal claim?

California has an attractive, consumer-friendly lemon law.  It’s one of the best in the nation, and it’s designed to rigorously ensure consumer protection.  If it turns out that you have a lemon, your options are:

  1. have the manufacturer repurchase your vehicle,
  2. have the manufacturer replace your vehicle, or
  3. negotiate a cash settlement with the manufacturer.

The law is designed to make unsuspecting and innocent consumers whole again, rather than leaving them stuck with a defective car or truck.  Find out more in: What to Do if You Have a Lemon.

Contact a California lemon law attorney today

If you want action now on a California Lemon Law claim and you want a high likelihood of winning your case, then a lawyer at Neale & Fhima should be your first choice.  We have a 99% success rate in lemon law cases.  To learn more about how we can help, call us today at 888-407-2955.  The initial consultation is free.  Don’t get stuck with a dud!