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What Constitutes a Lemon Under the New Car Lemon Law?

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Is Your New Car a Lemon?

What does California’s New Car Lemon Law cover? How is a “lemon” defined by state law? What’s your recourse if the new car you’ve purchased is a lemon? When should you seek the advice of a San Diego Attorney for Faulty Vehicle Claims?

If your new car needs multiple visits to the dealership or repair shop for safety and mechanical issues, an attorney skilled in new vehicle lemon law matters can help. The Lemon Law protects consumers who’ve bought a vehicle that the dealership or the manufacturer cannot repair.

Every day in California, consumers are sold lemons. In several states, a consumer who buys a lemon has few if any legal options, but when they buy vehicles in this state, consumers have legal rights under California’s New Car Lemon Law.

What is This State’s New Car Lemon Law?

The Lemon Law, formally known as the California Song-Beverly Consumer Warranty Act of 1970, requires the manufacturers of certain consumer products to replace or buy back a faulty or defective product after a “reasonable” number of attempts to repair the product have been made.

The law covers many consumer transactions – not only new motor vehicles only. But if the vehicle you’ve purchased is a lemon, or should you purchase a lemon in the future, resolving the problem begins by learning what the Lemon Law provides.

Which Vehicles Are Subject to California’s Lemon Law?

The Lemon Law doesn’t address the private sale of a used vehicle, even if that vehicle remains under the manufacturer’s warranty. Rather, the Lemon Law covers the purchases of vehicles from dealers. Those vehicles include:

  1.  automobiles, pickup trucks, vans, and SUVs
  2.  vehicles purchased or leased for personal, family, and household purposes
  3.  most vehicles purchased or leased primarily for business reasons
  4.  dealer-owned demonstration vehicles and certain other vehicles
  5.  the chassis, chassis cab, and drivetrain of a motorhome

The law applies exclusively to vehicles bought or leased at retail in California, or to a vehicle purchased or leased by an active-duty, full-time military member who was stationed or resided in California when the purchase or lease was made or when the Lemon Law claim was filed.

Is There Any Recourse For Buyers of Used Vehicles?

In some cases, the Lemon Law will also protect a consumer who buys a pre-owned vehicle if it was purchased from a dealership in California while the original manufacturer’s warranty was still in effect.

How Are Lemons Defined?

Under California’s Lemon Law, a new vehicle is considered a lemon when the following is true:

  1.  There is a problem with the vehicle that is covered by the original manufacturer’s warranty, at least to start with.
  2.  The problem “substantially impairs the use, value or safety of the vehicle.”
  3.  The dealer has been given a reasonable opportunity to repair the problem and hasn’t been able to get it repaired..

And in most cases, if a new vehicle that was purchased or leased in California is inoperable for thirty or more days while the manufacturer’s warranty is in effect, it is considered a lemon, and the California Lemon Law requires a full replacement vehicle or a lemon law buyback.

How Do You Exercise Your Lemon Law Rights?

When you buy a vehicle in California, keep and make copies of every receipt and document related to the vehicle and repairs. You’ll probably need copies immediately for the manufacturer and dealer, and you will need more copies if you file claims under the Lemon Law.

The Lemon Law applies to new cars throughout the manufacturer’s original warranty period. If you believe your new vehicle is a lemon, and if the dealer and manufacturer have had ample opportunities to fix the problem, and they’ve failed, it’s time to call an experienced Lemon Law attorney.

How Does a California Lemon Law Claim Work?

In this state, when you buy or lease a new vehicle, if the vehicle has a recurrent or unrepairable problem or defect, after multiple efforts fail to repair the problem, the dealer or manufacturer is required by the Lemon Law to replace or buy back the vehicle.

However, to succeed with a California Lemon Law claim, you and your Southern California Lemon Law attorney must prove the defective vehicle meets the legal definition of a lemon.

Don’t try negotiating with Ford, GM, or any automobile manufacturer. Instead, you’ll need to find a Lemon Law attorney in the San Diego area who will represent your claim and negotiate effectively on your behalf.

Is There a Deadline for California Lemon Law Claims?

Don’t wait to file a Lemon Law claim. Contact an attorney immediately when you become aware that your new vehicle may legally be considered a lemon. The deadline for filing a Lemon Law Claim in California is four years, and it’s a strict deadline.

Your Lemon Law claim will not be valid for any reason after four years. But when does that four-year clock begin? It begins on the date when you “knew or should have known” that your new vehicle meets the legal definition of a lemon.

The way to determine the statute of limitations for lemon laws in your case – and in fact, to determine if you have a Lemon Law case – is to consult an attorney who regularly and effectively handles Lemon Law claims.

Meet the Team at San Diego Lemon Law

Attorney Doug Sohn, a San Diego native, has practiced law in this state for over forty years, and for twenty years, he has worked exclusively for consumers who need an experienced and skilled Lemon Law attorney.

Doug Sohn and the team at San Diego Lemon Law will hold your new vehicle’s manufacturer accountable and will make sure that your Lemon Law claim is resolved fairly – with a motor vehicle replacement or a complete lemon law buyback, and your legal fees – as California’s Lemon Law requires.

Overwhelmingly, most Lemon Law claims in California are settled out-of-court, but if your own claim is disputed by a manufacturer, attorney Doug Sohn will take the claim to court and advocate aggressively for the justice you need. To learn more, or to begin the Lemon Law claim process, schedule a free case evaluation now by calling San Diego Lemon Law at 619-434-0819.

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