frequently asked questions

california lemon law

frequently asked questions

california lemon law

The California lemon law allows a consumer to obtain either a refund or a new replacement vehicle if the manufacturer is unable to repair a defective vehicle and the defect(s) substantially affect the use, value or safety of the vehicle.

People often think that in order to qualify under California lemon law, your vehicle must have had four repair attempts (or some other number of attempts). This is untrue. In fact, there is NO specific bright-line rule for determining whether or not a manufacturer has had a “reasonable number” of attempts to repair an automobile’s defect. Having said that, the general rule is that your vehicle must have had at least two (2) repair attempts for the same defect that was performed under the original manufacturer’s warranty, and that defect substantially impairs your use, value, or safety.

There is a common misconception concerning the Lemon Law, that it only applies to vehicles that are less than one year old and have less than 12,000 miles. This is not true! The California lemon law applies to vehicles regardless of how old they are or how many miles they have. As long as the vehicle is having warranty problems, the Lemon Law may apply.

Our firm does not charge anything to the consumer. All of our fees and costs are paid directly by the automobile manufacturers.

If your vehicle is now out of warranty, but was under the original manufacturer’s warranty when the repairs were performed, you may still be entitled to relief under the lemon law. Repairs covered by an Extended Service Plan do not count as warranty repairs under the California Lemon Law.

A lemon law buyback occurs when the automobile manufacturer buys your car back from you. When this happens, you are reimbursed for your down payment, all of your monthly payments, your current registration fee, and the automobile manufacturer pays off any outstanding auto loan. The manufacturer then takes the vehicle from you and brands the title as a lemon law buyback. The only money that is deducted from your refund is the mileage offset which is calculated by the mileage on the vehicle when the problem first began, divided by 120,000, and then multiplied by the purchase price of the vehicle.

This equation is set forth in the statute and this amount is considered to be a credit to the manufacturer for the “good miles” that were on the vehicle before there was anything wrong. The only other items that may be deducted from your refund include items that were added onto the purchase of the vehicle such as aftermarket service contracts, aftermarket alarm systems, lojack, accessories such as spoilers, and any other modifications to the vehicle such as bedliners, lift kits, etc. Each manufacturer looks at these items differently and there is no hard and fast rule about what will be included in a buyback versus what will be deducted when it comes to these items.

No, this is not true. Many times, the manufacturer does not believe that a defect rises to the level of a “substantial impairment” and therefore, they will not buy the vehicle back. However, in most of these cases, the manufacturer will pay what is called a “cash and keep” settlement. In this type of settlement, the manufacturer will pay you a sum of money for the trouble that you have had with your vehicle, but at the end of the claim, you will keep the vehicle (and dispose of it as you see fit, either by trading it in, selling it privately, or keeping it).

If you purchased a used vehicle that is still covered under the original manufacturer’s warranty, or you had it repaired under the original manufacturer’s warranty and it is now out of warranty, you may still be entitled to relief under the lemon law. If you purchased a “Certified Pre-Owned” vehicle, the manufacturer will often extend the warranty, so depending on the mileage, you may still have a viable lemon law claim.

Yes, leased cars are covered by the lemon law.

Good news, you may still be able to recover!  California lemon law has a four (4) year absolute deadline for filing a claim.  If it passes, you will not be able to pursue your rights.  The question of when the four-year time period begins to run has an answer that is less clear-cut, but under existing law, the four-year statute of limitations is calculated as beginning on the date when a consumer ought to have known that his or her automobile qualified as a lemon.  The best way for you to figure this all out is to call us for a free consultation.

Each case is different and each manufacturer handles these types of cases differently. With that said, we have worked with the same attorneys for the automobile manufacturers for years and we have an excellent working relationship with all of them. We will do everything in our power to make sure that your case is settled as quickly and efficiently as possible while obtaining the best possible result for you. These cases rarely go to trial and it is extremely unlikely that you will have to go to court for any reason while pursuing a lemon law claim.

Absolutely not. In fact, sometimes, the arbitration results are so unfair, that consumers come to us after losing at arbitration!

To qualify for the benefits of the California Lemon Law, the vehicle must have been purchased, registered, and repaired in the state of California under the original factory warranty, and there is only one exception to this rule. If you are active duty military, you may still receive the benefits of the California Lemon Law as long as you purchased the vehicle in the United States from a manufacturer that also sells vehicles in the state of California, and you are either (1) a California resident or (2) you were stationed in California when you purchased the vehicle or at the time you began your lemon law claim.

Probably Not!  All of the major auto manufacturers have “customer care” centers to deal with consumers who are having problems with their defective automobiles.  In most cases, the representative will tell consumers they will investigate the consumer’s claims and further review the situation or enlist the help of an area representative or the dealership to help you.  Leading you to believe they are diligently working to resolve the situation, the manufacturer is simply delaying you from pursuing your legal rights under the California Lemon Law.  The manufacturer realizes that many people will simply get fed up and sell their car or trade it in at the dealership.

In the rare instance where a manufacturer offers a refund or replacement, they often fail to pay the consumer his or her full entitlement under the Lemon Law.  Consumers are routinely charged thousands of dollars in excessive mileage fees, taxes and other fees, for which the manufacturer would otherwise be responsible under the Lemon Law.  Consumers are encouraged to seek legal counsel prior to accepting any offer made by the manufacturer.  Since the California Lemon Law requires the manufacturer to pay our attorney’s fees, there is no reason for you to represent yourself in these cases.  Call Consumer Legal Remedies at (833) 4-BUYBACK for a free consultation, or click on “Contact Us” to learn about your rights under the California lemon law.

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When life gives you lemons, make lemonade!

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