Lets face it. Living in Southern California almost indefinitely means that you need a car if there is any hope of going places. Having a car means we are able to go to work, visit family and friends, run errands, and so on. For this reason, as Southern Californians, we are willing to pay top dollar to buy or lease a new car. We do this so we can rest assured that our mode of transportation will not let us down by riddling us with incessant repairs and time consuming problems.
But sometimes, we are let down. Instead of having a car that runs problem-free and allows us to optimize our days, the car has problems that repair after repair does not fix. And one day you find yourself sitting at your repair center asking yourself: “Is my car a LEMON????”
This is where our friend the “Lemon Law” can help. The California Lemon Law, officially known as the Song-Beverly Consumer Warranty Act, provides remedies for a consumer who has purchased or leased a lemon. So the questions to be asking are the following:
1) What does the law say?
2) What constitutes a lemon?
3) Is your car a lemon?
4) What to do from here?
Luckily, I know how to answer these questions for you and I will be doing just that here.
1. What does the California Lemon Law say?
Generally, the California Lemon Law was passed to protect consumers who have purchased a product accompanied by an express warranty. Most, if not all, new cars bought or leased in this state come with an express warranty promising that the car will conform to the expectations set out by the seller/lessor of the car. If a manufacturer, after a reasonable number of attempts, cannot repair a new motor vehicle to meet the promises made under the express warranty, the Lemon Law requires the manufacturer to replace or repurchase the car from the buyer/lessee.
One great part is the buyer/lessee gets to choose whether he or she wants to have a replacement vehicle or money back in exchange for the car!! Another great part is the manufacturer may also be responsible for incidental costs (repair and rental costs for example) and official fees (sales tax, registration costs, etc.)! Thanks Lemon Law!
2. What constitutes a lemon?
This is a tougher question because courts normally determine the answer on a case by case basis. However there are basic rules of thumb that every new-car driver should know. The Lemon Law sets out a “Presumption” guideline. These guidelines state that if in the first 18 months or 18,000 miles of buying or leasing the new car, one or all of the following has occurred, the car is presumed a lemon:
- The same problem results in a condition that is likely to cause death or serious bodily injury, there have been two or more attempts to repair this problem, and the buyer/lessee has notified the manufacturer or dealer at least once of this problem;
- The same problem has occurred despite four or more attempts at repair and the buyer/lessee has notified the manufacturer or dealer at least once of this problem;
- The vehicle is has been in the shop or out of service because of problems for a total of 30 days since the day the car was delivered to the buyer/lessee.
3. Is your car a lemon?
I know what you are thinking. What if the problems did not start occurring until after the first 18 months or 18,000 miles? Bottom line, if your car has been giving you too many problems, it is still under warranty, you have notified the manufacturer or dealer of the problems, and you have afforded the manufacturer the opportunity to repair the problems numerous times, you may have a case. And to find out, you can call our office and just ask. Tell us about your experiences with the car and we will give you an evaluation of your case at no cost to you.
4. What to do from here?
There are a few options at this point:
Option 1: You can continue to spend money on your car for payments, repair costs, rental fees, and so on and just ignore the problem until it gets unbearable.
Option 2: You can contact an attorney and ask if your car qualifies as a lemon. This way, you can rest assured that your rights are being protected and your legal representative will fight for you.
Option 3: I get it. Lawyers can be scary. Thinking about starting legal action can be overwhelming. Before taking on a case, I always ask my clients if they have contacted the manufacturer’s customer care department. If not, go for it. Once in a blue moon you can resolve all of your issues by reaching out and simply explaining what is going on. But before you do this, make sure you understand what your rights are and what you are entitled to. Do not take less than you are owed and DO NOT SIGN ANYTHING BEFORE CONSULTING WITH AN ATTORNEY. Despite how tempting an offer can seem at first, think it over, do your research, and make sure you know what should be getting before settling on anything. You don’t want to be kicking yourself down the road because you did not think your decision through.
Keep in mind that the information I am providing here is a general overview of relevant parts of the California Lemon Law. For more detailed information, contact Malek Law Center to speak to an attorney. You can also get more information by contacting the Office of the Attorney General in the State of California, the Better Business Bureau, or the Department of Consumer Affairs. If you would like an attorney to evaluate your case, you can contact our office at absolutely no cost to you.