Many consumers wonder if the process of determining if your vehicle is a lemon is difficult and time consuming. Are you wondering how the lemon law claim process works in California?
Fortunately, the process is pretty straightforward and takes very little of your time to determine if your vehicle is a lemon and if it’s protected by California’s lemon laws.
The main questions are fairly standard:
- The vehicle must have what is considered a “substantial defect,” that is covered by warranty
- Did you purchase or lease your vehicle in California? Lemon law covers leased and purchased vehicles.
- Did you bring your vehicle in for repairs to the dealership where it was purchased a reasonable number of times so they could try and fix the problem?
- Was your vehicle in for repairs while under the original warranty 30 days or more?
When your dealer or the manufacturer fails to meet the manufacturer’s warranty and they’ve been given a reasonable number of attempts to do so, it’s normally considered a lemon. This means you are entitled to a vehicle replacement or a refund. If it doesn’t qualify as a lemon but there are problems covered by the warranty, you may receive a diminished value settlement in the form of cash.
California lemon laws can be for new and used vehicles, or even leased ones that come with a written warranty. Here are some of the remedies and protections you may receive:
Lemon Buyback or Refund
Your refund may consist of:
- The monthly payments you made and your down payment;
- Sales tax, first year registration, finance charges, service contracts;
- The payment of your existing loan balance;
- Car rental, towing, and other incidental and consequential expenses that one could reasonably say are due to the defect that created the lemon.
For a leased vehicle:
The refund is similar to above:
- The lease payments you made and your down payment;
- Sales tax, finance charges, registration for the first year;
- Replacement vehicle;
- Service contracts you received from the manufacturer;
- Payment of the remaining leasing obligations;
- Rental car, towing, and any other incidental or consequential expenses related to the problem;
If you want to receive a vehicle replacement, it must:
- Be substantially the same as the one you purchased or leased;
- Have the same service contract;
- Have the dealer or factory options that you had with the original vehicle;
- Provide you with any incidental or consequential expenses from the defects resulting in your vehicle being considered a lemon, like towing, rental, things like that;
- Also includes license or registration fees, and the sales tax for the vehicle replacement.
Did you ever drive your vehicle without any issues? If so, then the manufacturer may be entitled to an offset. Your lemon law attorney can help explain this and the calculation, but basically you take the price of the vehicle, multiply it by the miles driven before the first repair attempt, and divide that number by the average life expectancy of the vehicle.
Cash and Keep Settlement
What if your vehicle isn’t really a lemon, but you’ve had problems? It’s cash for the headache it caused you but you don’t give up your vehicle. You keep it because the problems are not judged to be significant enough to impair safety, value or usage.
What does this all cost you?
Remember, the attorney’s Lemon Larry can refer you to will not ask you to pay any legal fees because the state and federal lemon laws have determined that the manufacturer, not you, shall pay reasonable attorney costs and fees. It’s a great protection for you and anyone who finds themselves having problems after buying a new vehicle in California or other states.