Have you recently purchased a vehicle that continuously experiences problems? Do these issues result in frequent trips to the repair shop or raise safety concerns? If so, you have rights. The state of California protects individuals who buy and lease new or used vehicles that are “lemons” – cars, trucks and other vehicles that have persistent, hard-to-fix mechanical problems.
California lemon law provides important protections to consumers who have purchased a lemon. These cases can be highly complex, and it is important to have an experienced lemon law attorney on your side. For a free review of your case, please call the Law Offices of Howard D. Silver today at 818-597-2610. Mr. Silver serves all of California, including Los Angeles, Riverside, Ventura and San Bernardino counties.
Skip to more information about lemon law here:
- Quiz: Do You Have a Valid Lemon Law Case in California?
- California Lemon Law
- When Is a Vehicle Considered a Lemon?
- Song-Beverly Consumer Warranty Act
- Tanner Consumer Protection Act
- California Consumer Legal Remedies Act
- What Is the Magnuson-Moss Act?
- What Are the Warranty Requirements Under Magnuson-Moss?
- What Are the Rights for Buyers of New and Used Cars?
- When Can a Dealer Sell a Used Car as Certified?
- What Is Certified Arbitration?
- Attorney's Legal Fees
- Help from Our Attorney
Under California law, when the vehicle you purchased does not live up to the warranty from the manufacturer, you are entitled to have repairs performed at the manufacturer’s expense, at the manufacturer's authorized repair facility. After that, if the problem cannot be corrected after a reasonable number of repair attempts, you are entitled to a refund of your money or a replacement vehicle in addition to costs associated with the vehicle such as towing and rental car charges, attorney’s fees and in some cases a civil penalty equal to two times your out of pocket damages.
For more help, please visit our Lemon Law FAQ page.
According to the lemon law section of the Song-Beverly Act, your vehicle can be declared a lemon if, after a reasonable number of repair attempts, it does not conform to the warranty. In other words, even though you brought the vehicle to the manufacturer’s authorized repair facility multiple times, the problem with your vehicle still exists.
In addition, the California lemon law presumes your car is a lemon if:
- There have been at least 2 unsuccessful attempts to repair a problem that makes the vehicle unsafe for use
- The manufacturer or the dealer have made at least four unsuccessful attempts to fix the same problem affecting the use or value of the vehicle
- The vehicle has been out of service for more than 30 days due to warranty repairs
To qualify for the lemon law presumption, the repair attempts must occur within the first 18 months or 18,000 miles of owning the vehicle.
Because there are so many different types of lemon laws, you have to ensure that you know which law applies to your case. The Song-Beverly Consumer Act offers consumers who purchase or lease new motor vehicles certain guarantees and protections. The law stipulates that if you have made a reasonable number of attempts to repair a damaged consumer product (like the living quarters of a RV), the manufacturer may be required to either replace the entire unit or give you your money back.
The Tanner Consumer Protection Act – often referred to as "the lemon law" – specifically covers new motor vehicles. Included within this definition are the chassis, chassis cab, and that portion of the motor home devoted to its propulsion such as the engine or transmission. If the manufacturer or its authorized dealer or repair facility cannot fix the problem with your RV after a reasonable number of attempts, you may be entitled to your money back or a new coach.
On top of all of these protections, the California Consumer Legal Remedies Act gives you additional rights. This law says that if a seller misled you, misrepresented the condition of the vehicle, or hid critical information from you (for instance, the fact that your RV was a manufacturer buyback – that is, someone else returned it as a lemon), you can get a refund of your money, expenses, damages, and attorney’s fees.
Also known as the Federal Lemon Law, the Magnuson-Moss Act stipulates that a manufacturer or other seller who warranties a product for consumers must "fully, clearly, and conspicuously" spell out the terms of a warranty and abide by rules designated by the Federal Trade Commission. They apply to consumer products that cost more than $15.
A warrantor is required – In the event that there is a malfunction, defect, or other problem that prevents a product from conforming to the warranty – to do the following:
- Within a reasonable timeframe and without charging the customer, the warrantor must fix the product
- Warrantor may not change the duration of any implied warranty on the vehicle
- Warrantor cannot limit consequential damage for breach of the warranty (either expressed or implied) unless the warranty conspicuously states that there is a limitation or exclusion
- If there is a malfunction or a defect, and the consumer has tried a reasonable number of times to get the problem fixed pursuant to the warranty, the consumer may be able to choose either a free replacement of the product or a refund
- If warranties and insurance are being financed, dealers must clearly outline and itemize prices for each item
- The dealer must give you your credit score and explain how it will be used
- The law limits dealer compensation from the institution that finances vehicle purchases
- Used car buyers can get a two-day cancellation option written into the contract, however, the option is only available for consumers who buy a vehicle that's less than $40,000
- Vehicles sold as "certified pre-owned" in California have to meet stringent requirements
Sometimes cars are sold as "certified pre-owned" vehicles. However, there is not always a lot of clarity as to what this actually means. The following steps are required for dealers to sell a vehicle as "certified pre-owned":
- The dealer must do a full inspection of the vehicle and provide the consumer with a report of what was found
- The odometer must match the true mileage on the vehicle
- The vehicle cannot have been damaged in a flood, fire, or accident unless it's been repaired and is now in safe operational condition
- The vehicle cannot have sustained frame damage, have a "lemon law buyback" branded title, and cannot have been repurchased pursuant to the California lemon law
- The seller has to provide a complete inspection report of all of the relevant components
Oftentimes, a manufacturer will prefer to go through certified arbitration rather than taking lemon law claims to a court of law. This is a process to resolve disputes between manufacturers and consumers over warranties. Neutral arbitrators will oversee the process and render a decision.
According to the California Lemon Law, you can skip arbitration. But there can be consequences if you opt out. If you have questions about whether arbitration is right for you, you can talk to our attorney as we have had extensive experience with certified arbitration.
While arbitration may seem as though it benefits the manufacturer, our experienced lawyer can help arbitration serve your needs and help you get the compensation you deserve. Also, arbitration includes the following benefits:
- It is free
- Once the program receives your application, you will get a decision within 40 days
- You can observe the proceedings
- You, as a consumer, can accept or reject the arbitration decision, but manufacturers are bound by the decision
- If you reject what the arbitrator decides, you can still take your case to court
At the Law Offices of Howard D. Silver, unlike other lemon law firms, we do not charge consumers an extra fee in addition to what he or she may collect from the auto manufacturer for a defective vehicle. We understand that you've already been through enough and it is our job to help make your lemon law financial nightmare a thing of the past. To assist you with your lemon law case, we always offer free consultations to new clients where we discuss the amount of compensation for your lemon vehicle that will be sought from the manufacturer.
In obtaining a positive outcome for your lemon law claim, the manufacturer should pay court costs and attorney fees, as these expenses wouldn't be necessary had there not been a problem with the vehicle. If a lawsuit is filed, the case will be taken on a contingency-fee basis meaning there is no fee unless there is a settlement or a win at jury trial. If nothing is recovered, there is no fee. Unlike a personal injury case and except for the civil penalty, attorney's fees are based on how many hours the attorney works and not a percentage of the total recovery.
If you believe you may have purchased a lemon, Howard Silver can help you get back on track. We can help calculate what you deserve in compensation and ensure that you are no longer struggling with the consequences of a non-working vehicle.
We've been helping members of the Los Angeles area and California for decades. Contact us for a free consultation by filling out the form on this page or calling 818-597-2610.