California Lemon Law FAQs
When does a vehicle qualify under the California Lemon Law?
Generally, a vehicle qualifies under the California Lemon Law when the vehicle has a defect which the dealerships have been unable to repair. For the law to apply, the dealerships must be given a reasonable number of opportunities to repair the vehicle within the warranty period.
How many times do I need to take my car back to the dealer before I have a California Lemon Law claim?
The California Lemon Law states that the dealerships must be given a reasonable number of opportunities to repair a vehicle. The law does not require any specific number of repair visits. Typically, four visits for the same problem will qualify, but, depending on the defect, fewer visits may suffice. For example, a defect as severe as brake system failure may only require two visits. Moreover, if a vehicle spends a cumulative total of over 30 days in the shop for warranty repairs, it may satisfy the requirement no matter how many separate visits were made. Because the California Lemon Law does not set a specific number of visits, each matter should be assessed on a case-by-case basis.
Can I have a claim under the California Lemon Law if my repair visits did not occur within the vehicle’s first 18 months and 18,000 miles of use?
Yes, the California Lemon Law does not require that the repair visits occur within the first 18 months or 18,000 miles of use. If your repair visits occurred within the warranty period, you will be afforded the protections of the California Lemon Law. Largely due to the misrepresentations of the automobile manufacturers and car dealerships, there has been much confusion surrounding a provision of the CA Lemon Law called the Tanner Consumer Protection Act. As such, many consumers are left with the mistaken impression that they have no remedy under the California Lemon Law unless their repair visits occurred within the vehicle’s first 18 months or 18,000 miles of use. The truth is that you may have a very strong California Lemon Law claim even if your problems occurred well after 18 months and 18,000 miles.
What am I entitled to if my vehicle qualifies under the California Lemon Law?
If your vehicle qualifies under the California Lemon Law, you will be entitled to a refund of your down payment, monthly finance payments, and to have your vehicle loan paid off in full. You will also be entitled to reimbursement of incidental damages such as rental car expenses, repair costs, and towing expenses. If offered by the manufacturer, you may choose to have your vehicle replaced with a similar vehicle instead of having your money refunded. With either a repurchase or a replacement, the manufacturer will be entitled to a relatively small credit for the mileage driven on the vehicle before the vehicle was first taken in for repair of the defect.
Does the California Lemon Law apply to used vehicles?
Yes, if the repair visits occurred within the original or extended warranty period.
Does the California Lemon Law apply to leased vehicles?
Yes, the California Lemon Law applies to both purchased and leased vehicles.
Does the California Lemon Law apply to anything other than vehicles?
Yes, the California Lemon Law applies to all consumer goods, including motorcycles, boats, and recreational vehicles.
I haven’t been through arbitration. Can I still have a claim under the California Lemon Law?
Yes, California’s Lemon Law does not require that you first arbitrate your case.
I don’t live near The Bickel Law Firm, Inc.’s offices. Can my free consultation be conducted over the phone?
Yes, your consultation can be conducted by phone. Documents can be submitted for attorney review by email, fax, or regular mail. Most of our cases are settled in which a meeting with our clients is not necessary.
Can The Bickel Law Firm, Inc. help me if I live in a rural town hundreds of miles away from the nearest major city?
Yes, we handle Lemon Law cases throughout California. If needed, we will travel to your local area at no cost to you. If it is necessary to file a lawsuit in your case, the matter will be filed and litigated in your local county or district court.
What fees will I have to pay to hire The Bickel Law Firm, Inc.?
We do not charge our clients any up-front fees. The California Lemon Law includes an attorney's fees provision which allows us to collect our hourly attorneys fees and court costs from the automobile manufacturer at the successful resolution of the claim. This makes pursuing a California Lemon Law claim economically feasible for those who would otherwise not be in a position to hire an attorney. Moreover, any applicable contingency fee would not be due until settlement proceeds are recovered.
Chrysler and General Motors have filed for bankruptcy. Can I still maintain a lemon law case against them?
Yes, the bankruptcies will not impair consumers' ability to recover under the lemon law against either company. Chrysler and General Motors Corporation have both emerged from bankruptcy protection, on June 10, 2009 and July 10, 2009, respectively. Both companies will be assuming all warranty liabilities of the former companies. Accordingly, we are currently prosecuting lemon law cases against both Chrysler and General Motors, even for vehicles purchased and repaired prior to the respective bankruptcy filings.
Can my case be resolved without having to go through formal court proceedings?
In many cases, yes. The manufacturers have no incentive to engage in costly litigation on a case they believe they will lose. As such, many of our cases are resolved without a lawsuit having ever been filed.