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California Lemon Law Overview

Navigating the complexities of California Lemon Law can be overwhelming for many consumers. The California Lemon Law is designed to protect individuals who have purchased or leased new vehicles that fail to meet quality and performance standards. The Nita Lemon Law Firm is committed to guiding you through this intricate legal landscape, ensuring your rights are protected. This comprehensive guide will introduce you to the essentials of California Lemon Law, from understanding eligibility criteria to the claim process and how our firm can assist you every step of the way.

Introduction to California Lemon Law

California’s Lemon Law is found in the California Civil Code beginning in section 1793.2. It is also known as the Song-Beverly Warranty Act and the Tanner Consumer Protection Act; both laws make up parts of the Lemon Law.

California Lemon Law aims to provide relief to consumers who have inadvertently purchased or leased defective vehicles. The law mandates that if a manufacturer cannot repair a vehicle to conform to its warranty after a reasonable number of attempts, it must either replace the vehicle or refund the purchase price to the consumer. This legislation underscores the principle that consumers should not bear the cost of defective products that fail to deliver on their promised performance.

Lemon Law Eligibility Criteria

Not every vehicle with a problem qualifies as a “lemon” under California law. To be eligible for protection, several criteria must be met:

  • Type of Vehicle: The law primarily covers new vehicles purchased or leased in California that are still under the manufacturer’s original warranty. This includes cars, trucks, and SUVs, as well as the chassis, chassis cab, and drivetrain of motorhomes.
  • Defects Covered: The defect must substantially impair the vehicle’s use, value, or safety. Minor issues that do not affect the vehicle’s operation, such as cosmetic flaws, are typically not covered.
  • Reasonable Number of Repair Attempts: The law does not specify a fixed number of repair attempts. However, it suggests that a vehicle might be considered a lemon if it has been in the repair shop for more than 30 cumulative days for warranty repairs or if multiple unsuccessful repair attempts have been made for the same issue.

The California lemon law applies for the duration of the original warranty period provided by the manufacturer. However, a car is presumed to be a lemon if any of the following occurs within the first 18 months or 18,000 miles after the vehicle is delivered:

  • There have been two or more attempts to repair a serious safety defect
  • There have been four or more attempts to repair the same problem
  • The vehicle has been out of service for repair for more than 30 days

If any of these criteria are present, the car is presumed to be a lemon, but the manufacturer may still overcome that presumption by providing evidence to the contrary to show there is no serious safety defect, for instance. The manufacturer could also claim the problem does not substantially reduce the use, value or safety of the car, or that the problem was caused by abuse. The manufacturer may also claim that the consumer failed to provide proper notice or otherwise somehow did not comply with the required terms of the warranty. When the manufacturer makes these claims, you need to be prepared to fight back with evidence of your own.

The Claim Process

Filing a Lemon Law claim involves several steps, and meticulous documentation is crucial at every stage:

  • Documentation: Keep detailed records of all repair orders, correspondence with the manufacturer, and any other documents related to the vehicle’s issues. These documents are vital evidence for your claim.
  • Manufacturer Notification: Inform the manufacturer of the ongoing issues. This can be done directly or through an authorized dealership. The law requires that the manufacturer be given a reasonable opportunity to fix the problem.
  • Filing a Claim: If the manufacturer is unable to resolve the issue, you may proceed to file a Lemon Law claim. This is where having an experienced attorney becomes invaluable, as they can navigate the legal intricacies on your behalf.

How a California Lemon Law Case may be Resolved

Once the vehicle is proven to be a lemon, you have three options under California lemon law:

  • Refund: The manufacturer refunds the money you have paid into the car and pays off any loan balance as well.
  • Replace: The manufacturer replaces your vehicle with a new, similar vehicle under your same, original purchase contract
  • Cash Settlement (Cash and Keep): You keep the vehicle and receive a cash settlement for the diminution of the car’s value caused by its defect.

You may also receive compensation for incidental damages you have incurred, such as repair, towing, and rental costs.

If you are successful on your California lemon law claim, the manufacturer will pay your attorney’s fees and costs. These costs do not come out of your portion of the settlement. You never pay a dime for the services of the Nita Lemon Law Firm. In fact, M. Nick Nita was counsel in a California appeals court case that helped establish that a consumer who receives a financial recovery in a lemon law case through a settlement agreement rather than a trial is still a “prevailing party” entitled to have attorney’s fees paid by the other side.

How Nita Lemon Law Firm Can Help

At Nita Lemon Law Firm, we specialize in representing consumers in Lemon Law claims. Our experienced attorneys understand the frustration and financial strain of dealing with a defective vehicle. Here’s how we can assist you:

  • Expert Guidance: Our team will provide you with expert legal advice tailored to your specific situation, helping you understand your rights and the best course of action.
  • No-Cost Consultation: We offer a free initial consultation to discuss your case and determine how we can help you achieve a favorable outcome.
  • Documentation and Filing: Our attorneys will help you gather the necessary documentation and handle all aspects of filing your claim, ensuring that no detail is overlooked.
  • Negotiation and Representation: We have a proven track record of successfully negotiating with manufacturers and, if necessary, representing our clients in court to secure the justice they deserve.

Dealing with a lemon vehicle can be frustrating, but you don’t have to face it alone. The Nita Lemon Law Firm is here to support you at every step, leveraging our expertise to turn a stressful situation into a successful resolution. If you believe you’ve purchased or leased a lemon, contact us today to learn how we can help you navigate the complexities of California Lemon Law and fight for your rights as a consumer.

Knowledgeable, Experienced Representation is Important to Your Case

Considering the many ways the manufacturer or dealer may dispute your claim, having an experienced attorney represent you is critical to achieving a successful and satisfactory resolution. M. Nick Nita of the Nita Lemon Law Firm has been practicing lemon law and dealer fraud for 20 years and has personally handled 10,000 cases in that time.

If the dealer has been unable to repair your vehicle after a reasonable number of attempts so that it conforms with the manufacturer’s warranty, you are entitled to a replacement, refund, or monetary damages for your costs. Call the Nita Lemon Law Firm at 213-232-5055 or toll-free at 877-921-5256 for a free consultation regarding your potential claim.

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