Lemon Law Attorney Explains Vehicles That Qualify in California
California Lemon Law Attorney Covers Vehicle Defects
The State of California provides some protection to buyers who purchase defective consumer goods (including vehicles) through a consumer protection law known as the Song-Beverly Consumer Warranty Protection Act (aka California’s Lemon Law). This law covers vehicle nonconformities (or defects) for vehicles purchased or leased in California that are still under warranty where the defect “substantially impairs the use, value, or safety of the new motor vehicle to the buyer or lessee.” There are a variety of different vehicles that may qualify under the lemon law as provided below by a lemon law attorney at Bickel Sannipoli APC.
Qualified Vehicles Under the California Lemon Law
When a vehicle within the warranty period has a defect that a dealership cannot repair, it may qualify under the California Lemon Law. Typically, the vehicle must be bought in California primarily for business or personal use.
The California lemon law may also apply to other categories of vehicles besides brand new vehicles such as leased vehicles and used vehicles as long as the repair visits occurred within the warranty period. There are other types of motor powered machines, in addition to traditional vehicles (i.e. cars, trucks, SUVs, vans, etc) that are registered under California vehicle code that may also be considered a qualified vehicle in certain situations such as:
- recreational vehicles,
- scooters, and
- commercial trucks.
Lemon Law Attorney Explains How the Laws Apply for New Vehicles
Buyers of new vehicles are protected under the California lemon law if:
- the buyer purchased the vehicle for personal or business use,
- the car is under warranty, and
- the car has a defect that “substantially impairs the use, value, or safety of the new motor vehicle to the buyer or lessee.”
How Does California’s Lemon Law Apply to Used Vehicles?
Some used vehicles are also covered under California lemon law as long as the used vehicle was purchased by the buyer within the warranty period, and the defect presents itself and is reported within the warranty period. The warranty does not have to be the original manufacturer’s warranty, but could also be an extended warranty issued by the dealership (in some situations).
A Lemon Law Attorney Can Help if Your Vehicle Was Leased
The lemon law even applies to some leased vehicles. As with new or used vehicles, the leased vehicle may be covered if it is still under warranty when the defect arises and was leased in California.
Reasonable Opportunity to Repair
Dealerships must first be given a reasonable number of opportunities to repair the defective vehicle. Although the law does not specifically state the exact number of opportunities a buyer must give a dealership to repair the vehicle, as a general rule of thumb, about four visits for the same problem may be considered “reasonable opportunities.” However, in some situations less visits may be sufficient, such as where the defect results in a condition that is likely to cause death or serious bodily injury if the vehicle is driven. A lemon law attorney can help you assess whether you have given your dealership “reasonable opportunities” to repair your defective vehicle, as each case may be different.
Warranties Applicable to Qualified Vehicles
In California lemon law is based on warranties, similar to the warranty that would come with a large purchase like a new television or refrigerator. A warranty is essentially a guarantee, issued to you, the owner of the vehicle, promising good condition of the vehicle. There are several different types of warranties that could apply to your vehicle:
- Express warranty. Typically new cars come with an express written warranty from the vehicle manufacturer or dealership. The express warranty is a written promise that the vehicle will operate properly for a certain amount of time (such as for a certain number of years or until a certain number of miles have been accrued).
- Implied warranty. An implied warranty of merchantability is a promise that the vehicle will function for its ordinary purposes (i.e. provide for safe and reliable transportation for a specified amount of time). This type of warranty is typically going to be much more basic than the express warranty and will cover a more limited amount of defects.
- Dealer warranty. Typically, dealer warranties apply to used vehicles. These warranties are often written warranties that the vehicle is free from certain defects for a certain amount of time (such as three years or thirty thousand miles).
Don’t try to understand the warranty on your own, however. A lemon law attorney can check to see if your car had an applicable warranty to help you recover compensation.
Do “As Is” Cars Come with a Warranty?
When you see a vehicle being sold “As Is” this means that the vehicle is being sold under the condition it is in and the buyer assumes full responsibility for any defects that may be wrong with the vehicle. In essence, there is no warranty on the vehicle. Some extended warranties may sound like a warranty, but may just be an agreement with a third-party to repair the vehicle if it breaks down. Sometimes these warranties do not qualify for lemon law protection.
It is important to have your warranty reviewed by an experienced lemon law attorney who can advise you as to what your warranty provides as well as what protection you may be entitled to under the lemon law.
Damages and Attorneys’ Fees for a Lemon Law Claim
Some consumers initially may be concerned about the cost to file a lemon law claim against a manufacturer. Fortunately, the California Lemon law provides a means to help consumers file a warranted lemon law claim as this law requires the automobile manufacturer of a lemon to pay attorney’s fees for buyers who bring a successful lemon law action against the manufacturer. This can help buyers and lessees of vehicles deemed a lemon bring claims against manufacturers for their defective vehicles if proper repairs or replacements are not made.
Buyers (or lessees) of vehicles deemed a lemon may obtain damages for their defective qualified vehicles that may include, but are not limited to:
- a refund of a down payment made,
- monthly finance payments,
- loan paid off in full, and
- reimbursement of incidental expenses (such as rental car expenses, repair costs, towing costs, etc).
Also, a buyer may be able to choose to have the defective vehicle replaced with a similar vehicle instead of choosing to have money paid for the vehicle refunded.
Talk with a Lemon Law Attorney Today
If you are a California car owner with a defective vehicle, or are leasing a defective vehicle, it is important that you consult an experienced lawyer to consider your rights and options. Bickel Sannipoli APC is a statewide practice that provides free case evaluation, document review, and attorney consultation regarding buyers' rights under the law.
Lemon law attorney Brian Bickel and his team at Bickel Sannipoli APC have represented thousands of clients in defective vehicle cases across the state and can help evaluate your lemon law claim to help you obtain the remedy you deserve for your defective vehicle.
Our offices are conveniently located in Los Angeles, San Diego and San Francisco, California. Call us at (888) 912-3930 or contact us online to speak with a California lemon law attorney.