Buying a new car can be exciting. There’s the hunt for the perfect ride, the test drives, the intoxicating new car smell, and the excitement of driving your new vehicle off the lot.
But if that vehicle is defective, the dream of owning a new car can turn into a nightmare. One visit to the dealer becomes two, then three, then more. The dealer can’t seem to fix the problem and you can’t get a straight answer. The bad news is that you probably have a lemon on your hands. The good news is that you can use the California lemon law to get a settlement, refund, or replacement vehicle.
Counts Law Firm levels the playing field for California consumers. California’s Song-Beverly Consumer Warranty Act and Tanner Consumer Protection Act safeguard Californians who discover that they own lemons. Counts Law Firm uses those laws, as well as federal laws like the Magnusson-Moss Warranty Act, to ensure that our clients obtain justice from automakers.
Every day, car manufacturers use teams of lawyers that fight tooth and nail to keep from paying lemon law claims. Counts Law Firm levels the playing field by advocating on your behalf to get the settlement, refund, or replacement vehicle you deserve. And, because the law says that lemon automakers have to pay our fees, our representation won’t cost you a single dollar out of pocket.
Although it sounds straightforward, California lemon law is complicated. What follows are answers to questions that clients often have about their vehicles and the law. Once you review this FAQ, you’ll understand why you should contact Counts Law Firm for a free, no-obligation case evaluation.
In order to be considered a lemon, your vehicle has to have an issue that is covered by the manufacturer’s warranty. In addition, the problem must make the vehicle inoperable, unsafe to drive, or worth less money. So, for example, if the electrical system is on the fritz and the car dies or won’t start, that makes it inoperable and a potential lemon. On the other hand, if the problem is that the window rattles, the vehicle probably doesn’t meet the legal definition of a lemon.
A variety of vehicles are covered under California lemon law, including new cars, pickup trucks, SUVs, and vans that are purchased or leased in the Golden State. In addition, some portions – such as the chassis, chassis cab, and drivetrain – of new motorhomes are covered. Dealer-owned vehicles and demonstrators are also included under the law, as is any other vehicle sold with a new car warranty. California lemon law even covers business vehicles, providing that their gross vehicle weight is less than 10,000 pounds and the business has no more than five vehicles registered in the state.
Motorcycles, off-road vehicles, used vehicles, and the living spaces in motorhomes aren’t covered by lemon law, but buyers may be protected under different provisions of the Song-Beverly Consumer Warranty Act.
Under California lemon law, repair attempts for defects have to take place within 18 months of taking possession of the vehicle or within the first 18,000 miles on the odometer – whichever comes first. If the defect is likely to cause death or serious injury, then there have to be least two repair attempts before the vehicle is considered a lemon. If the problem isn’t life-or-death, then the dealer has four chances to fix the defect. In addition to the required number of repair attempts, the law requires that you send a notice to the manufacturer about the problem.
Sometimes, a lemon doesn’t have one single problem but a series of unrelated defects. At other times, a dealer may hold onto the vehicle without actually being able to fix it. That’s why California lemon law says that a vehicle that has been in the shop for a cumulative total of 31 or more calendar days also qualifies as a lemon.
A: California lemon law says that you get to choose whether you’d like a refund or a replacement vehicle. The refund will include the purchase price and options added by the manufacturer, but won’t include dealer-installed options. Added to that are charges such as sales tax, licensing and registration fees, finance charges, towing charges, and costs associated with rental cars.
For either a refund or replacement, the law says that the dealer can charge you for the number of miles you drove the lemon prior to taking it to the shop for the first repair attempt. That charge is calculated according to a formula included in California’s lemon law.
California lemon laws says that, once your car meets the definition of a lemon – with the right kind of defects, the right number of repair attempts or out-of-service days, and the right timing – the manufacturer gets one last try to fix the problem. If that doesn’t work, then the automaker must replace or buy back your vehicle.
But here’s the rub. Car manufacturers aren’t in the business of giving consumers refunds and replacements. You’ll have to fight for your rights. If the manufacturer has an arbitration program certified by the state, California lemon law says that a consumer has to participate in arbitration prior to filing a lawsuit against the carmaker.
The state says that you don’t need an attorney for the arbitration process. Keep in mind, though, that automakers hire lawyers to represent them. And the primary job of those attorneys is to prevent consumers who want to exercise their rights under California lemon law from getting a refund or replacement vehicle.
Ask yourself this: How many times in your life will you fight for your lemon law rights? You may do it once, but we do it everyday. That means we understand the nuances of California lemon law, and that we know all too well the ways that companies try to avoid doing what’s right.
If you suspect you have a lemon, don’t wait until the final repair attempt to contact us. Time is of the essence, and the car manufacturer would love to run out the clock to wriggle out of paying your claim.
We will guide you through the process of scheduling repair attempts, notifying the manufacturer, collecting documentation, and staking your lemon law claim. We’ll be at your side every step of the way.
While we are fully prepared to appear with you in arbitration and to file a lawsuit in court, once the carmaker knows that Counts Law Firm is representing you, they will likely offer a cash settlement, buyback, or replacement vehicle. When that happens, we will give you all of the information you need in order to make the decision that is best for you.
Remember, Counts Law Firm has one priority: pressuring the automaker to do the right thing in order to get that lemon out of your life.