Filing a Lemon Car Law Claim in California? Why You Shouldn’t Go It Alone

We’re living in an era where information is just the click of a YouTube video or Wikipedia link away. Who needs experts these days, right?  Wrong! Especially if you were sold a lemon car and want to file a lemon car law claim in California.

Lately, we have been hearing from a lot of consumers who say they contacted the manufacturer directly to ask for a buyback of their lemon car but didn’t know how to negotiate the best settlement and were unhappy with the buyback offer from the manufacturer. So, they turn to us for help. But often it’s too late.

A cautionary tale of someone who thought they knew the lemon car law and could do it on their own

A woman contacted us the other day who is in the middle of filing a lemon law claim on her own. The manufacturer offered a buyback but is forcing her to turn in the vehicle at a location that is far away from her local area. Clearly, the manufacturer is trying to take advantage of her and making the process difficult in hopes that she might drop the claim.

Unfortunately, we were unable to get involved in her claim at this point in the process because the manufacturer has already offered her a buyback at a reasonable price. Had she worked with us initially, we would have stipulated that the manufacturer accept surrender of the vehicle at a convenient and mutually agreeable location. She now must wait at least 30 days, then we might be able to assist in negotiating acceptable settlement terms. But maybe not.

If you are considering filing a lemon law claim in California, you’re better off working with a lemon law lawyer from the start rather than trying to handle it on your own. Here’s why:

Lemon car law lawyers are free to the consumer

The fact that you don’t have to pay attorney’s fees makes it a no-brainer decision to work with a lemon law attorney. If you qualify for a settlement, California Lemon Laws stipulate that consumers receive 100% of the claim settlement and the auto manufacturer pays all attorneys’ fees and costs, not you.

But…if we get involved with your claim after the manufacturer has offered you a buyback, the manufacturer might not pay our legal fees, which means you would have to. So, best to contact us before you do anything.

We know the lemon car law

Even though the California Lemon Laws are consumer-friendly, the process can be time-consuming and confusing for the do-it-yourselfer. As lemon law experts, we are experienced at negotiating a better deal for the consumer than they can get on their own. We can also make sure lemon car owners are not signing away their rights or being taken advantage of by the manufacturer.

We know the players and how to play the game

Before representing consumers and their rights, lemon law attorney Sotera Anderson used to represent the auto manufacturers. She still maintains good relationships with them and can negotiate a better settlement for consumers. We know how the law applies in each specific case, how to hold the manufacturer accountable, what they are willing to do, and how much they are willing to compensate the vehicle owner within the law.

Stress-free settlement

Like many DIY projects, the lemon law claim process can be extremely stressful if you are inexperienced. With a seasoned lemon law lawyer in your corner, they can take on the stress of dealing with the manufacturer, so you don’t have to.

Think you have a claim? Get a free, no-obligation case evaluation from Sotera L. Anderson, California Lemon Law Attorney, here or call  1-855-96-LEMON, or (858) 247-0050.

Do You Have a Winning Lemon Car Case?

Your new car has been giving you nothing but trouble. Despite numerous attempts to resolve the issue with the dealer or auto manufacturer, the problem persists. You are at the end of your rope…out of time and money for more repairs. The big question now is: Do you have a winning lemon law case?

The answer to that question is another question: should you seek the help of lemon law lawyers?

Many lemon car owners who read the California Lemon Laws (called the Song-Beverly Consumer Warranty Act) look at the list of criteria for a vehicle to be deemed a lemon and decide on their own that their situation doesn’t meet the requirements. They give up too early and too easily. That can be a big mistake. Even if you think your car doesn’t meet all the criteria for a lemon or your warranty has expired, you should still contact a lemon law attorney to fully understand the process and your options.

What are the lemon law requirements in California?

The actual law is somewhat extensive, but paraphrased below are the basic requirements for a vehicle to be considered a lemon in California:

  • The vehicle was purchased or leased in California. Members of the military who are serving in California or residents of California can file no matter where they purchased or leased the vehicle.
  • The vehicle is covered by the manufacturer’s original warranty or is within six months past expiration.
  • The vehicle was purchased for personal use, or business use if it’s under 10,000 pounds and the business owner has five or fewer vehicles registered in his or her name.
  • The vehicle is a car, truck, motorcycle, SUV, or similar vehicle. The non-living-spaces of motor homes are covered, including the chassis, cab, and propulsion systems.
  • The manufacturer/dealer has made two or more attempts to remedy a serious problem that could cause serious injury or death OR the manufacturer/dealer has made four or more attempts to repair the same non-life-threatening problem that is covered under the warranty.
  • The problems substantially reduce the vehicles value, use, or safety.
  • The problems are not caused by abuse by the owner or lessee.

What can lemon lawyers do for you?

The California Lemon Laws are not written in layman’s terms, so it can be easy for someone without legal expertise to misinterpret even the simplest of statements. For example, the idea of presumption with regards to the lemon law is one of the most misunderstood aspects of the law as it is written.

The lemon law has been in effect since 1970 and, as with most laws, some aspects of it have been challenged in court over the years. California lemon law attorneys are up-to-speed on the latest court cases and laws and know how they can affect your chances of receiving a settlement from vehicle manufacturers.

What’s more, even though you might meet all the criteria for a lemon car now doesn’t mean that you won’t in the future. If your vehicle has been repaired twice and you think the issue is resolved, the problem could arise again. A lemon law lawyer can advise you when you should take action in the future.

A seasoned lemon law attorney can help you determine if you have a case. If your automobile does not meet the criteria, you might have to wait until it does meet requirements to open a request for compensation. Your lemon law lawyer can also let you know if too much time has lapsed since your warranty has expired which means the likelihood of receiving a settlement from the manufacturer is next to impossible.

But if your vehicle does meet the criteria—even if it doesn’t match every condition for being a lemon—your lemon law attorney can file the necessary paperwork on your behalf to seek an award from the manufacturer.

Your next move

Many lemon car owners don’t realize there is no cost for a consultation with a lemon law lawyer. In fact, the California Lemon Laws say attorney fees are to be collected from the manufacturers, not from the consumer. So there’s nothing to lose by contacting a lemon law attorney sooner rather than later.

Think you have a claim? Get a free, no-obligation case evaluation from Sotera L. Anderson, California Lemon Law Attorney, here or call 1-855-96-LEMON, or (858) 247-0050.


Chevy Colorado: Is Your Car a Lemon?

Mid-size pickup trucks are wildly popular with consumers who live an active and adventurous lifestyle. Unfortunately, one of the most common—the Chevy Colorado—has been plagued with transmission, engine, and other problems over the last several years turning these trucks into potential lemon cars.

  • Transmission does not engage. When pressing on the gas pedal, the truck revs, but doesn’t go into gear right away. The problem could be a defective torque converter, low transmission fluid, contaminated transmission fluid from internal wear, or internal transmission system failure.
  • Problems selecting a gear or staying in gear. This could be due to a transmission fluid leak, loss of communications to the transmission control module or computer.
  • Intense shudder. Chevy Colorado owners often experience an intense shudder and vibration under light to moderate speeds. While a simple transmission fluid flush or fill might fix the issue, the damage may already be done leading to expensive transmission repair or replacement.
  • Fuel pump failure. In 2018, the Chevy Colorado was recalled due to fuel pump failure which could leak and increase the risk of fire. Scary!
  • Check Engine light. In some Chevy Colorado models, the Check Engine light comes on with or without an accompanying “reduced power warning,” often occurring while pulling a trailer or other heavy load up a hill.

If you are experiencing these or other recurring issues with your warrantied Chevy Colorado pickup and have been unable to get them resolved by your car dealership, your truck may be a lemon. The good news is you have recourse through consumer protection laws known as the California Lemon Laws.

These laws allow you to reach a settlement with the manufacturer with one of several possible outcomes:

  • Buyback—The manufacturer refunds you for the purchase of your car and takes possession of the vehicle. You can then use the money to purchase any make or model of car you want
  • Cash and keep—You receive cash for your troubles (less than the original purchase price) but keep the vehicle.
  • Extended service contract—With this outcome, you keep the car, and the manufacturer agrees to provide service and repair for longer than the typical warranty period.
  • A replacement vehicle—Sometimes a manufacturer will agree to replace your lemon with a comparable vehicle, but this outcome is rare.

Having a California Lemon Law attorney in your corner (at no cost to you, by the way) can help you navigate the legal process, handle the paperwork, and negotiate the absolute best offer for your Chevy Colorado lemon that’s right for you.

Think you have a claim? Get a free, no-obligation case evaluation from Sotera L. Anderson, California Lemon Law Attorney, here or call  1-855-96-LEMON, or (858) 247-0050.


When your business vehicle is a lemon

Automobiles have symbolized personal freedom and independence in America over the last century. But they have also become an integral part of Americans’ work life. A reliable car isn’t a luxury anymore, it’s a necessity, even as a business vehicle. So, if your vehicle continually lets you down on the job, it could be a lemon—and it’s time to take action.

Cargo van can’t go

Take for instance, the story of a local woman who helped her brother purchase a cargo van to use for his mortuary services business. Unfortunately, the van presented a troubling and persistent transmission problem. It would not shift into reverse. Even with several visits to the dealer to fix it, the issue persisted, and the business owner was unable to provide the proper service for families mourning the loss of their loved ones. Frustrated, she turned to us for assistance to file a California Lemon Law claim.

Securing a fair settlement

Under the California Lemon Law, there are a number of possible outcomes from filing a claim:

  • Refund of the purchase price. For many consumers, this is a very desirable outcome. The refund money can be used to purchase any make or model of car they want. In turn, the manufacturer takes possession of the lemon vehicle and can do what they want with it, including branding the title of the vehicle as a lemon, in accordance with the law, and reselling it.
  • A replacement vehicle. In this rare outcome, the manufacturer will agree to replace the lemon with a comparable vehicle.
  • Extended service contract. In some instances, the manufacturer will offer an extended service contract on the defective vehicle and agree to provide service and repair for longer than the typical warranty period.
  • Cash and keep. With this settlement option, the consumer receives cash for their troubles but keeps the vehicle.
  • There’s always the chance that the law (or a jury) won’t rule in favor of the consumer who has filed a California Lemon Law claim.

Fortunately for the mortuary business/cargo van owner, we were able to secure a financial settlement that allowed her to get a fair refund so that her brother could purchase a vehicle that enabled him to provide professional, reliable service for grieving families.

Think you have a claim? Get a free, no-obligation case evaluation from Sotera L. Anderson, California Lemon Law Attorney, here or call  1-855-96-LEMON, or (858) 247-0050.

Certified Pre-Owned Crossover SUV: A Settlement Success Story

The must-have automobiles in America­—SUVs and crossover SUVs—only continue to rise in popularity, comprising a 50% share of auto sales in the U.S. in 2020. When a recent client purchased their certified pre-owned 2017 crossover SUV, they were thrilled to have a vehicle that could accommodate their busy family’s lifestyle. And since they bought it certified, they were confident it was a smart buy. Sadly, that did not turn out to be the case.

Within the first week of owning the car, problems started to arise. They went back and forth to the dealer to fix engine trouble three times and transmission issues four times. The family was spending more time at the repair shop than they were at their kids’ soccer games. When the owner came to us, they were fed up with this lemon. Fortunately, we were able to arrange for a buyback that put them back in the driver’s seat of a reliable, trouble-free vehicle.

Costs covered with a buyback

When you file a California Lemon Law claim, the manufacturer has 30 days to respond. One of four settlement options from the manufacturer include: a replacement vehicle, a buyback of your vehicle, or a cash settlement and you retain ownership of the vehicle, or nothing.

In the case of my crossover SUV client, the best outcome for them was a buyback. The California Lemon Law stipulates that a buyback settlement includes a refund of all cash spent to buy the vehicle and any additional expenses that were incurred during the time of ownership, such as:

  • Down payment
  • Monthly payments
  • Balance of the loan
  • Interest
  • Taxes
  • Costs incurred while vehicle was under repair (e.g., rental car or other transportation costs and towing expenses)

The objective of the California Lemon Law buyback solution is to make the owner of the vehicle whole again.

Costs not covered with a buyback

Your settlement claim should outline all the above expenses making sure to turn over every stone of expense you incurred. However, you are responsible for the usage fee, which is the mileage you placed on the car during the time you owned it using the first repair visit. This fee is calculated using a formula to determine the value of the miles driven on the car before the mechanical issues began.

Expediting your settlement

Whether you receive a buyback settlement like our client described here, or choose one of the other options, it is important to retain paperwork of all auto repairs and other out-of-pocket expenses. Good record-keeping can help your California Lemon Law attorney negotiate the best settlement on your behalf.

Think you have a claim? Looking for a lemon lawyer near me ? Get a free, no-obligation case evaluation from Sotera L. Anderson, California Lemon Law Attorney here or call 1-855-96-LEMON, or (858) 247-0050. Visit our website for more information.

Muscle Car Lemon: A Buyback Success Story

Not long ago a client came to me with an all-too-familiar story – a lemon car story. He had purchased his dream car—a new muscle car with all the style and horsepower he was looking for. But quickly, his dream car turned into a lemon law nightmare.

He began experiencing troubling and repeated issues with the vehicle’s powertrain. He took it to the dealer five times for repair before the car had even logged 22,000 miles! Yet the problem persisted. Realizing this was a serious issue, my client contacted the manufacturer. And as often happens in these situations, he got the runaround from them. That’s when he reached out to me. I was able to successfully arrange a buyback settlement for the muscle car owner which allowed him to get rid of the lemon and receive money to purchase another automobile.

What is a buyback?  

A buyback is one of several settlement options available to owners of lemons in the State of California. This means that the consumer gives the car back to the manufacturer and the manufacturer gives the consumer a monetary refund according to the lemon law refund formula. This can be a desirable settlement for the owner of the lemon because he or she no longer has to deal with the financial and emotional burden of owning a defective car and they get their money back to buy a reliable new vehicle. One downside to a buyback settlement is that the car owner no longer has that dream car they originally wanted.

What happens to the lemon buyback?

Contrary to what you might think, an automobile deemed a lemon is not sold for spare parts or sent to the junkyard. In fact, lemons bought back by the manufacturer are often repaired and resold to the public as “lemon law buybacks.” These vehicles must be registered in the manufacturer’s name prior to resale to the public and the seller must notify the consumer in writing of the nonconformities stated by the original owner. By law, manufacturers and dealers must adhere to several other requirements in order to put these cars back on the market.

Buyback bottom line

My muscle car owner client is now the proud owner of a new dream car. He’s the perfect example of a successful outcome when filing a California Lemon Law complaint. A buyback offer from the manufacturer is often the best settlement to be able to move on from the nightmare and keep moving on the road. The key is to take all the right steps to address the vehicle’s recurring issue and act swiftly before the statute of limitations expires.

Think you have a claim? Get a free, no-obligation case evaluation from Sotera L. Anderson, California Lemon Law Attorney, here or call  1-855-96-LEMON, or (858) 247-0050.

Please note that every case is different and there are no guaranteed outcomes.