384 Forest Avenue, Suite 17 in Laguna Beach, CA 92651
California Lemon Law Attorneys in Los Angeles
In California, a vehicle is presumed to be a “lemon" by the Song-Beverly Consumer Warranty Act if within 18 months of the vehicle's delivery to the buyer (or 18,000 miles on the odometer):
- 2 attempts or more have been made by the manufacturer to repair a warranty problem that could result in death or serious injury.
- The manufacturer has attempted to repair the same warranty problem at least 4 times.
- The car has been out of service for 30 days or more for repair to warranty problems.
- Problems to the vehicle are not the result of abuse by the owner.
If your car qualifies as a lemon, the manufacturer has the responsibility of either:
- Replacing your vehicle
- Refunding you for the vehicle's purchase price
Are You Covered Under the California Lemon Law?
The California Lemon Law does not require that the repair visits occur within the first 18 months or 18,000 miles of use. If your repair visits occurred within the warranty period, you will be afforded the protections of the California Lemon Law. Largely due to the misrepresentations of the automobile manufacturers and car dealerships, there has been much confusion surrounding a provision of the CA Lemon Law called the Tanner Consumer Protection Act. As such, many consumers are left with the mistaken impression that they have no remedy under the California Lemon Law unless their repair visits occurred within the vehicle’s first 18 months or 18,000 miles of use. The truth is that you may have a very strong California Lemon Law claim even if your problems occurred well after 18 months and 18,000 miles.
The Song-Beverly Act, more commonly known as the "Lemon Law", provides protection for consumers who purchase or lease a vehicle that is still under its original manufacturer’s warranty. According to the law, if the vehicle’s manufacturer or an authorized dealer is unable, after a reasonable number of attempts, to fulfill the terms of the original warranty by adequately servicing or repairing the vehicle in question, the manufacturer or authorized dealer is then responsible for replacing or repurchasing the vehicle.
All warranty repair work must be performed by an authorized dealer. The California Lemon Law states that an automobile manufacturer must have a reasonable opportunity to repair the vehicle. Because independent repair shops are not authorized agents of a manufacturer, any repairs done at such a shop do not qualify as repair attempts and may in fact void that portion of the warranty on the vehicle.
Automobile manufacturers are obligated to repair defects and are allowed a “reasonable” opportunity to do so. What qualifies as a “reasonable” number of attempts depends on the nature of the defect. The exact number of repair attempts allowed is determined by a number of factors, particularly the seriousness of the defect.
One important term to know is “nonconformity”. According to Section 1793.22 of the California Civil Code, a “nonconformity” refers to a defect, malfunction or failure to conform to the written warranty in a manner that “substantially impairs the use, value or safety of the new motor vehicle to the buyer or lessee.”
The California Lemon Law applies to used vehicles if the repair visits occurred within the original or extended warranty period.
The California Lemon Law applies to both purchased and leased vehicles.
Should the Manufacturer Decide They Prefer A Negotiated Settlement, You May Expect:
A “buyback” or a “repurchase” of your Lemon. This is usually handled locally and if your case is considered a strong one by the manufacturer, it may occur within 2-4 weeks of your original call to this office. A replacement vehicle. This is also handled locally but, it is highly discouraged, since you do not want to be in another lemon car AND it may take a long time to fine the vehicle you want with the right options, color scheme, year or other specifications. A cash settlement. Some Lemon Law cases are borderline and may just be worth a nuisance settlement with the manufacturer. Those few cases may be settled for a partial refund of the original purchase price. The owner may then keep or sell or trade the vehicle as s/he sees fit. This option does tend to lessen the pain of selling an older vehicle and may allow you to do so at a lower than market price.
On A New Motor Vehicle, You Are Entitled to Get Back:
All Monies you paid like down payment and payments made, less a “statutory” mileage offset, related to the number of “trouble free” miles you put on the vehicle PRIOR to the initial problem(s) creeping up; You may also be entitled to some related expenses like tax, title, registration, reasonable repairs, and/or towing reimbursement; Also, the bad guy should pay off any outstanding loan/lease amounts; You are entitled to the cost of filing a lawsuit (currently $435.00 in CA); You are also entitled to have your attorney’s reasonable fees paid by the bad guy.
If your vehicle qualifies under the California Lemon Law, you will be entitled to a refund of your down payment, monthly finance payments, and to have your vehicle loan paid off in full. You will also be entitled to reimbursement of incidental damages such as rental car expenses, repair costs, and towing expenses. If offered by the manufacturer, you may choose to have your vehicle replaced with a similar vehicle instead of having your money refunded. With either a repurchase or a replacement, the manufacturer will be entitled to a relatively small credit for the mileage driven on the vehicle before the vehicle was first taken in for repair of the defect.