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Tips for Understanding California Lemon law

Lemon Laws. Lawyer (man) carries a stack of folders. 3 file fold

California’s Lemon Law protects vehicle purchasers and lessees who were sold a defective vehicle. Pursuant to the Lemon Law, customers have the right to repair, refund, or replacement of a defective vehicle. Below, we offer a few tips on how best to understand the Lemon Law, including when it applies. If you’ve been sold a lemon or otherwise subjected to auto fraud, call a seasoned California lemon law attorney for help protecting your rights and your safety.

Basic Elements for a Lemon Law Refund or Replacement

California’s Lemon Law guarantees vehicle owners the right to a refund or replacement when:

  • The vehicle has a defect;
  • The defect is covered by the manufacturer’s warranty;
  • The vehicle’s warranty is still in place;
  • The defect reduces the use, value, or safety of the vehicle, and the problem was not caused by the owner’s abuse of the vehicle; and
  • The owner has made a reasonable number of repair attempts.

“Reasonable Number” of Repair Attempts Depends in Part on the Nature of the Defect

The law requires the owner to have made a reasonable number of repair attempts. The manufacturer must have been given the opportunity to fix the vehicle and failed to do so. How many repair attempts are reasonable depends, in part, on the nature of the defect. If the defect is severe and dangerous enough to threaten death or bodily injury, only two repair attempts are necessary. For a less dangerous problem, a few more attempts might be necessary. The owner can also point to the cumulative total amount of time the vehicle has spent in the shop or has been otherwise undrivable.

The Law Applies to New and Used Vehicles

California’s Lemon Law applies to customers who buy or lease new vehicles as well as customers who buy or lease used vehicles, so long as the manufacturer’s warranty still applies. The warranty may be the original manufacturer’s warranty or a certified used vehicle subject to a new manufacturer’s warranty.

The Law Applies to Buyers and Lessees

California’s Lemon Law is not limited to auto buyers. The law protects people who lease a vehicle for personal or commercial use, so long as the other requirements are met.

The Law Applies to More Than Just Cars

Many people believe that California’s Lemon Law is limited to cars. In reality, the Lemon Law protects a wide range of motor vehicles that are still subject to the manufacturer’s warranty. In addition to automobiles, the Lemon Law applies to:

  • Trucks
  • Boats (including sailboats, yachts, speedboats, jet skis, and more)
  • Motorcycles (so long as they are registered for use on highways)

The law even applies to motorhomes and other RVs, albeit the application is a little more complicated. California’s Lemon Law applies directly to the “vehicle” part of the RV–the chassis, engine, drivetrain, and chassis cab–just like any other vehicle. The other part of the RV–the “livable” portion of the vehicle–is not covered by California’s Lemon Law. However, the federal Magnuson-Moss Warranty Act (MMWA) protects buyers of all consumer goods that have warranties, including the livable portion of an RV. Through a combination of state and federal law, California purchasers of RVs are protected regardless of the location of the defect.

There is No 18,000 Mile Limit

There’s a myth perpetrated by dealerships that the Lemon Law applies only until the vehicle has 18,000 miles. This is simply untrue. The Lemon Law applies so long as the manufacturer’s warranty continues to apply.

The 18,000 mile/18 months figure concerns a legal presumption regarding whether the buyer has made a reasonable number of repair attempts. If the vehicle has fewer than 18,000 miles or 18 months, and the buyer has made a few repair attempts, the buyer is entitled to a presumption that they’ve made a “reasonable number of repair attempts” as required by the Lemon Law. If the car has more than 18,000 miles but is still under the warranty, the buyer can still make a Lemon Law claim, but they may need to make additional repair attempts before getting their refund or replacement.

Trusted Advice and Representation From a Seasoned California Lemon Law Attorney at Nita Lemon Law Firm

If you are experiencing problems with your vehicle, I would like the opportunity to evaluate your lemon law claim at no charge to you and discuss your legal options. For a free, no-obligation consultation, please call me toll-free at 877-921-5256, submit a free case evaluation on my website at www.nitalemonlaw.com, or email me directly at nick@nitalemonlaw.com. Either way, I will personally evaluate your case and promptly respond to your inquiries. I look forward to hearing from you.

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