What Qualifies as a Lemon Under California Law?
Nothing can be more frustrating than dealing with a vehicle that keeps breaking down. When you make repeated visits to the auto dealership and your car is still plagued with the same problems, no one can blame you for being at your wit’s end. Luckily, California’s Lemon Law may be able to provide you with relief. The Song-Beverly Consumer Warranty Act, more commonly known as the California Lemon Law, protects both buyers and lessees from defects which the dealer or manufacturer is unable to repair within the vehicle’s warranty period.
The California Lemon Law applies to both new and used vehicles that are sold within the state and are still under the manufacturer’s vehicle warranty. The law protects consumers throughout the entire original or Certified Pre-Owned warranty period, so it is important to check your vehicle’s warranty manual to determine whether your car may still be under warranty.
Under California law, dealers and manufacturers must be given a reasonable number of opportunities to repair your vehicle. If your vehicle’s warranty is still in effect and the dealer or manufacturer is unable to repair your car after repeated attempts, you may be entitled to receive a comparable replacement or the return of your purchase price.
What constitutes a “reasonable number” of repair attempts? In California, there is no required number. It will depend on what the jury thinks is reasonable if the case proceeds to trial, but fortunately the great majority of our cases settle well short of trial. The number will depend upon the nature and gravity of your car’s defect. For instance, if the problem is severe, such as a brake system failure, two attempts to repair the defect may be considered reasonable. In other less serious situations, four repair attempts may be deemed to be a reasonable number of opportunities to fix the problem.
When a vehicle is in the shop for a cumulative total of more than 30 days for warranty repairs, the “reasonable number of repair attempts” requirement may be satisfied, regardless of the number of separate visits. Because California Lemon Law does not dictate a specific number of repair visits, we are happy to discuss whether we can help in a free consultation. If you are in Los Angeles and believe that your car may be a lemon, you should consult with an experienced Los Angeles Lemon Law attorney who can evaluate your situation to determine whether you may have a claim under the California Lemon Law. Although we have successfully resolved a great number of Los Angeles Lemon Law cases, we do represent consumers across the entire State of California.
In addition to the number of repair visits, you may be wondering if the Lemon Laws in California require the repair visits to occur within a certain period of time and/or number of miles driven. The answer is no. Despite the attempts of automobile manufacturers and dealers to confuse the public, California’s Lemon Law does not require the repair visits to occur within a set number of months from the delivery of the vehicle or within any specific number of miles placed on the odometer. The Tanner Consumer Protection Act, a special provision included in the California Lemon Law, is only meant to serve as presumption to help the consumer, not as a mandate. This provision often causes consumers, and even some less seasoned attorneys, to mistakenly believe that the car’s repair visits must take place within the first 18 months or 18,000 miles of use. This is simply not true. The California Lemon Law protects consumers throughout the entire period of their car’s original manufacturer’s warranty. For example, if you have a 3 year/36,000 mile warranty, you may still be entitled to relief even if your problems didn’t start until well after two years and over 30,000 miles. As long as the visits occur within the warranty period, Lemon Law protection applies.
While California’s Lemon Law provides consumers with strong protections, the specific provisions of the law can be difficult to interpret and understand. If you are considering filing a Lemon Law claim in Los Angeles, you should discuss your case with a skilled Los Angeles attorney who can effectively advocate for your rights throughout all stages of the process.