Everything You Need to Know About California’s Lemon Law

As consumers, we trust that the products we purchase have been sufficiently tested and vetted before they hit the market. Unfortunately, errors and defects occur, some of which can lead to alarming issues or even catastrophic injuries. If you have purchased a new or gently used vehicle in California that has a warranty defect or a recurring mechanical issue, you may be entitled to receive a replacement vehicle or a refund under state law. California’s Lemon Law protects consumers when their vehicles are defective and cannot be repaired after a “reasonable” number of attempts have been made. Those who qualify for relief under this law may obtain a refund or a replacement vehicle. Although the law does not require that consumers hire an attorney to pursue relief, enlisting the guidance and support of a trusted and knowledgeable Berkeley lemon law lawyer is the best way to ensure that you secure your desired outcome. Let’s take a look at some of the most frequently asked questions about California’s Lemon Law and the steps you can take to pursue a claim.

Vehicles Covered Under California’s Lemon Law

Essentially, all new and used vehicles that come with the manufacturer’s new vehicle warranty are covered by California’s Lemon Law. New (and some used) cars, pickup trucks, vans, and SUVs are covered under this law, as are the chassis, chassis cab, and drive train of a motor home. Additionally, California’s Lemon Law covers many vehicles purchased or leased primarily for business purposes, as well as dealer-owned vehicles and demonstrators. It’s important to recognize that even full-time, active-duty members of the Armed Forces who are stationed or residing in California at the time of purchase or lease enjoy Lemon Law protection, even if their vehicles were purchased or registered outside of California.

What Does a “Reasonable” Number of Repair Attempts Mean?

Under California’s Lemon Law, the manufacturer must provide a replacement vehicle or refund for a consumer’s car after a “reasonable” number of repair attempts have been made. While the law does not assign a concrete definition to the term “reasonable number,” it provides some guidelines for determining when the manufacturer should step in to offer the customer a refund or replacement vehicle.

Unsuccessful Trips to the Dealership

If you have taken your car, truck, or SUV to the dealership for the same issue on four or more separate occasions, you will likely be eligible for relief under Lemon Law. However, if the problem is large enough to cause death or serious injury, you will qualify for a refund or replacement vehicle after two trips to the dealership or manufacturer have proved unsuccessful.

The Vehicle Has Been Unusable or Out of Service

If your vehicle has been in the shop for more than 30 days (not necessarily 30 days in a row), Lemon Law may protect you. California law recognizes that having a vehicle out of commission for long periods of time poses significant obstacles to individuals and families, so it offers relief (in the form of a replacement vehicle or refund) to those whose vehicles are inoperable for stretches of time.

Other Relevant Qualifying Conditions

To qualify for relief under California’s Lemon Law, the underlying issue must have first occurred within 18 months of delivery or 18,000 miles (whichever comes first). Additionally, you must be able to prove that you notified the manufacturer about the issue and made several attempts to address or repair the problem. Once you can demonstrate that you qualify for relief, the manufacturer must promptly repurchase the defective vehicle or replace it.

Does Lemon Law Apply to Used Vehicles?

California’s Lemon Law covers new and used vehicles still under the manufacturer’s new vehicle warranty. If you purchase a used car or truck that presents a recurring issue or problem, any remaining time left on the warranty should protect you as the vehicle’s new owner. However, even if the Lemon Law does not apply in your situation, other state or federal laws may protect you. It’s best to discuss your case with an experienced lemon law attorney to determine the most strategic path forward.

How Do I Make a Lemon Law Claim?

In most instances, the manufacturer will offer a state-certified arbitration program to help you resolve your dispute. You’ll need to move through this process to obtain the replacement vehicle or refund provided under the law. Navigating this process can be confusing for many people, so it’s worth enlisting the help of a dedicated and caring attorney to ensure that you obtain your desired outcome. Your lawyer will assess the details of your situation and support you along the way to securing the replacement vehicle or refund you deserve.

Reach out to Lemon Law Partners, LLP, today at (510) 944-0336 to arrange a free case evaluation with a dedicated and friendly Berkeley attorney.

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