Vehicles are among the most important and expensive items we buy. If you buy a vehicle in California and it turns out to be a lemon, what can you do? If you’ve taken the vehicle in for repairs several times, and it just cannot be fixed, you may need the help of a California Lemon Law attorney.
How do vehicle manufacturers deal with “lemons” and other defective vehicles? What legal protection does a consumer have in California if he or she has been sold a lemon?
Keep reading to learn about “secret” warranties, vehicle recalls, and California’s Lemon Law. You will also learn what steps to take in California if you are the owner of a vehicle that turns out to be a lemon.
What Are Secret Warranties?
When you buy a new vehicle from a dealer, the vehicle comes with the manufacturer’s factory warranties – basic warranty, powertrain warranty, restraint warranty, emission warranty, and the like. These warranties only last for a certain period of time. For example, the basic warranty might be 3 years or 36,000 miles, whichever occurs first. But, did you know that sometimes manufacturers extend these warranties without even telling you?
When a manufacturer learns about a mechanical or design fault or defect in a vehicle model that is already on the market, it sometimes will extend the factory warranty to cover repairs for those specific defective parts. For example, if the water pump is the part that keeps going bad, the manufacturer might extend the factory warranty just for water pump repairs.
This extended factory warranty might sound great, but it’s not that great if you, the consumer, have no idea about the extension. You see, manufacturers do not always publicize that they extended the warranty. This is why those warranties are called “secret warranties.”
What happens is that (1) customers who think their factory warranty has expired take their car to an auto mechanic shop for repairs and pay out of their pocket for the repairs or (2) they take their car to the dealer for repairs and are pleasantly surprised to learn that the repairs are covered by a warranty they did not know existed.
Manufacturers benefit by not telling customers about the extended factory warranty. They avoid bad press and don’t have to pay for repairs if a customer takes their vehicle to an auto shop instead of the dealer.
California Lemon Law Attorney Sotera Anderson recommends that before you take your vehicle to an auto shop for repairs, you take your car to the dealer and ask whether there are known issues and whether the manufacturer extended the warranty on certain parts. Or, call the manufacturer’s 1-800 number found in the warranty book and ask the manufacturer directly.
How Do Recalls Work?
More than 29 million vehicles were recalled in the United States in 2018. That figure includes Chryslers, Fords, Toyotas, and Hondas. Recalls notify the public when a vehicle has a dangerous design defect. Defective vehicles put us all at risk, but recalls are rarely quick or efficient. Did you know that by the time recalls become public knowledge, the manufacturer has already known about the defect for some time? Did you also know that the notification process can take months?
When vehicles are recalled, manufacturers are supposed to notify the owners. However, you might not receive the notice for a few months because they are sent out in batches. If your last name is later in the alphabet, you might not receive your recall notice for months. Also, if you moved after buying the vehicle or if you purchased a used vehicle, you might not receive notice of the recall at all.
Dealerships repair recalled vehicles (or replace defective parts) at no cost to the consumer.
The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (nhtsa.gov) provides up-to-date information on vehicle recalls. You go visit the website and enter your vehicle’s VIN into the website and see if you have any open recalls on your vehicle.
If Your Vehicle Is A Lemon, What Can You Do?
Some new and used automobiles consistently have one problem after another – or the same problem, over and over. After a number of repairs – or attempted repairs – when a vehicle still does not run right, it might be a “lemon.”
The State of California has one of the country’s strongest “Lemon Laws” that protects consumers who have been sold lemons. It essentially says that if you have repeat problems during the warranty period that the dealer cannot seem to fix, you might be entitled to a refund.
How Does The Lemon Law Work?
California’s Lemon Law seems simple enough. You buy a vehicle, it has a problem, and after a number of efforts to repair the problem have failed, the manufacturer buys the vehicle back from you or replaces it with another vehicle.
But, in reality, lemon law claims are not that simple. There may be disagreements about the repair history, the number of visits, the problems with the vehicle, whether the manufacturer can (or should) deduct for certain things depending on the process you take, whether you get your negative equity back, whether you should get a loaner vehicle, and the list of things that can get complicated goes on.
California Lemon Law Attorney Sotera Anderson has seen manufacturers make offers to consumers that do not comply with the law, but the consumer has no idea. The consumer trusts the manufacturer (which is their first mistake) and agrees to things they never should and then they try to seek an attorney’s help later, only to find out that nothing can be done because of certain actions the consumer took. Don’t let this be you.
California’s Lemon Law says that if you have a case and prevail, the manufacturer has to pay your attorney’s actual and reasonable fees and costs. So, there is no reason not to seek the help of an experienced lemon law attorney to help you from the start.
Under The Lemon Law, What Steps Should Consumers Take?
A consumer’s first step under the Lemon Law is giving the vehicle’s manufacturer a fair chance to make the needed repairs to the vehicle before you take any legal action. If you file a claim under the Lemon Law too quickly, that claim may not be successful.
But, if a number of efforts to repair the vehicle have failed, call California Lemon Law attorney Sotera Anderson. She will ask to see some documents and will let you know if you have a case for a refund or cash. The best part is that she will not charge you to review your matter for you. If a lemon law attorney wants to charge you to determine if you have a case, find another lemon law attorney.
If you have a case, Attorney Sotera Anderson will take it from there and relieve you of the stress of dealing with this issue on your own.
What Will An Attorney’s Services Cost?
Lemon Law attorneys in California work on a contingent fee basis. You will pay your attorney nothing up front, and when your claim prevails, the vehicle manufacturer is responsible for your attorney’s fees and costs. The contingent fee system gives everyone a chance to seek justice.
If you believe that your own vehicle is a lemon, or even if you are already talking to a dealer or manufacturer regarding a replacement or a buyback, before you move forward, speak to a California consumer attorney who handles Lemon Law claims.
Let The Right Lemon Law Attorney Handle Your Case
Without the right lawyer’s help, you may not receive the full value of your claim. In California, the right Lemon Law attorney is Sotera Anderson. Let her handle your claim from the beginning.
The right attorney can hold a vehicle’s manufacturer legally accountable and ensure that you are treated fairly. Consumer protection is a priority in the State of California, and if you need to take legal action because you’ve been sold a lemon, the law will be on your side.