If your new, used, or leased vehicle purchased or leased in California is a lemon, you need to deal with the problem as soon as possible. If your vehicle qualifies as a lemon under California’s Lemon Law, you should seek the advice and services of a California Lemon Law attorney.
California’s Lemon Law gives vehicle owners substantial legal protection. If you have purchased a vehicle that is a lemon, you are entitled under the law to a buyback or a replacement vehicle. There is no reason to let a vehicle manufacturer or dealer take advantage of you.
Under the Lemon Law, vehicle manufacturers and dealers may be accountable for a vehicle that is a lemon. After you take the appropriate steps, they must refund your money or offer you a replacement vehicle.
Why Will You Need an Attorney?
You will need an attorney’s help, however, because your own research cannot fully prepare you for the complications that may arise if you choose to exercise your consumer rights under the Lemon Law.
If you keep reading, you will learn about some of those complications, and you’ll also learn what mistakes you will need to avoid if you choose to have your vehicle purchased back or replaced by using the provisions of the Lemon Law.
Which Vehicles are Covered by the California Lemon Law?
Not all defective or problematic vehicles are covered by the Lemon Law, so the first step is to determine if your vehicle meets the law’s requirements. A vehicle must meet the following requirements to be covered by California’s Lemon Law:
1. It must be a new, used, or leased vehicle that is still under a manufacturer’s new vehicle warranty.
2. It must be a vehicle that was sold or leased in the State of California.
3. It must be a vehicle that a manufacturer or dealership has made multiple, unsuccessful efforts to repair the same or similar problem.
4. The problem has to be more than minor.
Some of the mistakes California vehicle owners who are seeking to exercise their Lemon Law rights make can be fixed with the right attorney’s help, but other mistakes could invalidate an otherwise legitimate claim.
Here are the most common mistakes that sink the efforts of consumers to have their vehicles repurchased or replaced under the Lemon Law.
Mistake #1: Not Ensuring That Your Complaints Are Included in the Service Record
Ensuring that your complaints are part of the vehicle’s service record is essential, and it’s easy to overlook. However, if the service department at an authorized dealership “forgets” to put your complaints on the vehicle’s service report, you will have a very difficult time proceeding with your claim.
A vehicle’s service report should include the dates of service, the mileage on the odometer, and a brief explanation of your complaints and the attempts to make repairs.
Your complaint may be “a grinding noise” or “a loud knocking sound,” but if your complaint is not recorded in the service report, and you decide to take action under the Lemon Law, it will simply be your word against theirs.
Ensure that your complaint has been recorded in writing on the service report before you leave the dealership – or you may have a difficult time later with your Lemon Law claim.
Mistake #2: Continuing to Seek Repairs After Multiple Repair Attempts
California’s Lemon Law says that a “reasonable number” of attempts to fix a defective vehicle must be made before the owner may demand a buyback or a replacement.
The courts in California have held that at least two repair efforts must be made, but to build the strongest possible case, three to four repair attempts should be made. However, four is oftentimes enough. If the defect makes the vehicle dangerous, two or three attempts to fix it may be enough.
If a vehicle that’s a lemon cannot be repaired after four attempts, it is easier to say that the vehicle is a lemon. Before taking the vehicle back for a fifth or sixth repair effort, contact a California consumer protection attorney for help.
Do not forget that you must take your vehicle in for repairs starting when the manufacturer’s new vehicle warranty is still open.
Mistake #3: Not Keeping the Pertinent Documents
If you do not have the documentation that supports your claim that your vehicle is a lemon, you are unlikely to be able to move forward with the claim. When you purchase or lease a vehicle in this state, save, copy, and store the sales and repair receipts and any other pertinent documents.
A California consumer attorney will need to review these documents before accepting your case and initiating the negotiations for your buyback or replacement. As mentioned previously, it is imperative to review your repair bills to ensure that they include your complaint regarding the vehicle.
Mistake #4: Not Seeking the Help of a Lemon Law Attorney
Consumers will need legal guidance throughout the Lemon Law process. Do not work with a lawyer who charges a fee to take your case or to provide a legal consultation. California’s Lemon Law requires your vehicle’s manufacturer to cover your attorney’s fee if your claim prevails.
You’ll need a Lemon Law lawyer who has considerable experience representing consumers who have purchased vehicles that are lemons. California Lemon Law attorney Sotera L. Anderson once represented vehicle manufacturers in these cases, so she knows the law from both sides.
Attorney Sotera L. Anderson is an aggressive advocate for consumers who are fighting for their rights. If a vehicle manufacturer cannot fix your vehicle and your vehicle turns out to be a lemon, Sotera L. Anderson will take your case to court.
What is Your Next Step?
You’ve now read about the most common mistakes consumers make when they seek to protect and exercise their rights under California’s Lemon Law. The right consumer attorney can discuss how the law applies in your own case and negotiate with the vehicle’s manufacturer on your behalf.
As mentioned previously, protecting and exercising your consumer rights – and having a vehicle manufacturer buyback or replace a vehicle that is a lemon – will cost you nothing. There is no reason why you should not contact a consumer attorney and exercise your rights.
Your Lemon Law attorney will ensure that the vehicle’s manufacturer complies with the Lemon Law and that you receive the buyback or replacement vehicle that you are entitled to. If you believe your vehicle meets the legal definition of a lemon, the time to contact an attorney is now, before the deadline passes.