It would be illegal to knowingly sell a faulty car to someone. Proving whether the manufacturer sold a defective vehicle or not might be difficult. But there is a Lemon Law in California to protect consumers when they buy a new car, and it has major problems that can’t be fixed. If you have tried to get a car you bought fixed, and despite many efforts, it is still not working, contact a lemon law attorney in California.
Most states have passed laws to protect consumers from manufacturers that sell faulty goods. California’s law is called the Song-Beverly Consumer Warranty Act. This is invoked when you have repeatedly tried to get your new car fixed, and nothing seems to work.
This is particularly aggravating when it is an automobile. You need the vehicle for transportation to work and other places. You also spent a lot of money to get a car you believed would be reliable.
It is very difficult to go against car manufacturers alone, as they have their own team of high-priced lawyers ready to defend the carmaker. A lemon law attorney can help you get most of your money back if it can be shown the car was defective from the factory. In most cases, you can opt for a replacement instead of your money back, but that choice should always be with the customer.
What is a lemon?
The word lemon is often used to describe a vehicle that has major problems. California’s Lemon Law says defects that impair the safety or operation of the vehicle, must be repaired within a reasonable number of attempts. If this does not happen the manufacturer has to either replace the vehicle or give the owner the money back.
It is true that the car you bought new is now a used car and worth significantly less than what you paid for it. The manufacturer will not have to give you the price of a new car. There is a complex mathematical formula to determine how much you get back.
What is reasonable?
When you have a new car, you expect it to be almost perfect. Everything should work well. If there are any problems at all, you should take it to the dealership for repair as soon as you can. The mileage on your car when you first reported the problem will be key in determining how much of your money you can get back.
The law says it is a lemon if not fixed in a “reasonable” number of attempts. What is reasonable is a bit subjective, but that is why keeping good records is important. There is a provision in the law, however, that goes by a certain number of repair attempts or a certain number of days in the shop during the first 18 months or 18,000 miles.
California is unique
California’s lemon law is one that gives consumers more of the benefit of the doubt when it comes to determining if a car is a lemon. Provisions of the law that protects consumers include:
- Applies to leased vehicles
- Many used cars qualify
- Vehicles other than cars qualify
- Business cars qualify
- Military personnel may file a claim on cars from other states
- The four-year statute of limitations
- Easy to file a claim in the first 18 months
- The manufacturer has to reimburse legal expenses
- Consumers can decide whether to get a replacement or money back
How to file a claim
To file a claim the vehicle must still be under warranty. You must also give the dealership a reasonable opportunity to fix the car. This is subjective and may depend on what the repair is, but certainly, more than just a few attempts should be made at repairing the car. You should also learn about your options for filing a claim, and what remedies exist for your situation.
You can go straight to arbitration, but generally, you will get more if you file a lawsuit with an experienced lemon law attorney. Keep in mind there is a four-year statute of limitations, but usually, you will have problems way before that happens. Keep all your records of repairs and repair attempts. Get as much in writing as you can from the dealer. For a new car, it is generally best to stick with the dealership for repairs, which will prevent the manufacturer from claiming faulty work was done.
Contact an attorney
If you have made several attempts at getting your car repaired, and the problem cannot be fixed, you may have a lemon. You may also have a lemon if new problems keep showing up as fast as other problems are fixed. If you are in this situation it is a good idea to get in touch with a lemon law attorney to help you get your money back or a replacement vehicle. Most attorneys offer a free consultation to listen to your story and determine if you have a solid case. The California law is designed to protect consumers, and if you have a legitimate complaint, there is no reason to not pursue the matter with legal help.