Know Your Rights: The California Lemon Law
If you’ve recently purchased a new car and you’re spending more time repairing it than actually driving, then you may have a “lemon” on your hands. Luckily, the California Lemon Law is designed to protect consumers from losing money on faulty new and leased vehicles.
A purchaser or lessee of a vehicle has various rights under both state and federal law if a vehicle does not perform as it should under a warranty. It should be noted that the laws as described are not substitutes for contacting your own lawyer who can best advise you on your rights and the circumstances of your case.
What is the California Lemon Law?
The California Lemon Law requires a vehicle manufacturer that is unable to repair a vehicle to conform to their own warranty after a reasonable amount of repair attempts to replace or repurchase the vehicle. The Lemon Law covers new and used vehicles sold or leased in California that come with manufacturer’s new vehicle warranty. Types of vehicles include: cars, pickup trucks, vans, SUVs and motorhomes.
History of the Law (The Song-Beverly Consumer Warranty Act)
In 1970, California enacted the Song-Beverly Consumer Warranty Act, which required all manufacturers to repurchase or replace faulty products which they failed to fix after a reasonable number of repair attempts. The act applies to many consumer goods, not just vehicles. In regards to automobiles, the law requires that if the manufacturer or its representative in the state, like an authorized dealer, is unable to service or repair a new motor vehicle to meet the terms of a written warranty after a reasonable number of repair attempts, the manufacturer is required to promptly replace the vehicle or return the purchase price to the lessee or buyer. The Lessee or buyer is free to choose whether to accept a replacement or a refund. No matter the choice, the manufacturer must also pay for sales or use tax, license, registration, other official fees, and incidental damages that the lessee or buyer may have incurred, like repair, towing, and rental car costs. Song-Beverly has a four-year statute of limitations to bring a lawsuit for breach of warranty or violations. Nevertheless, it should be done promptly in an attempt to resolve the problem fairly and quickly.
The Lemon Law Presumption & What Is a Reasonable Number of Repair Attempts
Within the Song-Beverly Act, there is a guideline that helps identify if a vehicle is a “lemon.” The following criteria must be met within 18 months of delivery to the buyer / lessee or if 18,000 miles have accrued on the vehicle’s odometer, or whichever comes first.
- The manufacturer or agents have made two or more attempts to repair a warranty problem that has the potential to cause death or serious bodily injury if the vehicle is driven.
- The manufacturer has made four or more attempts to repair the same warranty problem, or the vehicle has been out of service for more than 30 days, while being repaired for any number of warranty problems.
- Several problems arise which are covered by the warranty and substantially reduce the vehicle’s use, value or its safety to the consumer, and are not caused by abuse of the vehicle
If these criteria are met, the Lemon Law presumes that the buyer or lessee is entitled to a replacement vehicle or refund of the purchase price. If required by the warranty materials, the consumer must notify the manufacturer about the problem(s), preferably in writing. The notice must be sent to the address shown on the warranty or owner’s manual.
The “Lemon Law” presumption is a guide, not an absolute rule. A judge or arbitrator must determine if the manufacturer has had a reasonable number of chances to repair the vehicle if all the conditions are met.
If you have purchased or leased a new vehicle that is under warranty and already showing faulty, or potentially life threatening problems, you may have a Lemon Law Case on your hand. Don’t let the manufacturer take advantage, protect yourself and your new investment.
Call Legal One Law Group today for a free consultation: (818) 480-6732