Lemon law applies differently to all different types of vehicles because of the ways the laws are structured. Because of this, there may be different laws you have file under if you own a car, truck, motorcycle, or RV.
If you believe that you own a vehicle that was sold to you as a lemon, there is help available to you. The Law Offices of Howard D. Silver has been specializing in lemon law cases for decades and can help you get the compensation you deserve.
For help with your case, please contact our Los Angeles firm today by calling 818-597-2610.
New Car Lemon Law
It is important to know whether your car will technically be considered a “new motor vehicle.” Your rights and protections under the California Lemon Law will vary depending on whether your vehicle will legally be considered a “new vehicle” or a “used vehicle.”
Even if your car is not a “new motor vehicle” by California Lemon Law Standards, you may still have the same protections if the vehicle is still under the warranty provided by the seller. There is more information about lemon law at our Lemon Law FAQ page.
According to the California Lemon Law, a vehicle is technically considered a “new motor vehicle” if:
- It was bought or used primarily for household, family, or personal reasons
- It weighs under 10,000 lbs. and is primarily used for a business that is registered as a partnership, LLC, corporation, or association
- It is still covered by the manufacturer’s warranty
- It is the chassis and/or chassis cab of a motor home
Frequent Causes of New Car Lemons
Defects that turn new vehicles into lemons are usually not caused by the consumer. Instead, they are typically the direct result of an automaker's design or assembly of the vehicle. Defects can be so severe that multiple repair attempts do not fix the problem.
Frequent New Vehicle Lemon Defects
Defects in new cars that make the vehicle a lemon are as varied as there are cars on the road. The problem may occur during the first week the consumer has the car or not show up until one year later and 10,000 miles on the odometer. Either way, if the defect cannot be repaired after a reasonable number of attempts, the consumer may be entitled to his money back or a new car.
Common defects include:
- Seatbelt failure – belts may be easily ripped or latches may not hold correctly, however, this may not be known until an accident or hard stop
- Defective airbags – like seatbelts, these safety devices may not deploy properly
- Defective brakes – brakes may lock up, stop too hard, not stop hard enough, or fail completely. The problem can occur when the vehicle is new or several years old
- Accelerator problems – the gas pedal is defective or the vehicle does not accelerate properly
- Electrical/environmental problems – this includes air conditioning, clock, radio, system readouts, and much more. Oftentimes, these defects are not noticeable at first or short out unexpectedly after frequent use
- Door locks – problems with door latches and locks can occur in relatively little time, but may not be known at first as the doors on cars are not regularly used while sitting on the lot.
Used or Leased Car Lemons
Although the California lemon law only applies to used or leased cars if the vehicle is still covered by the manufacturer’s warranty, you still have significant legal rights if the vehicle has an express written warranty issued by the seller. In fact, if your used car cannot be conformed to the terms of the seller's warranty after a reasonable number of repair attempts, you may be entitled to a replacement vehicle or a refund of your money.
The nature of settlements in used car lemon law cases varies based on the specifics of your case. Depending on the circumstances, you may be entitled to recover compensation for:
- A refund of the money you paid for the used car
- Loan or lease cancellation for the balance owed on your account
- Incidental costs such as rental and towing fees
- Finance charges on your loan
- Vehicle registration fees
- Attorney’s fees and legal costs
- A civil penalty equal to two times your out of pocket damages
Used Car Implied Warranties
Here are two types of used car implied warranties:
- Merchantability – This essentially says that the seller has sold a product that does what it’s supposed to do. If you purchase a car to drive, then it should drive. This concept applies to all consumer products that come with an expressed warranty. If you buy a lamp, then it should turn on. If you buy an automated mixer, then it should be able to mix. And so on.
- For its intended purpose – This applies when there is a special purpose you intend to use the product for. For example, you tell the used car dealer the vehicle you are buying must have snow tires because you're moving to a cold climate where there is a lot of snow. Instead, the seller puts regular tires on the car and you can't use the vehicle.
When you buy a used vehicle "as is", it means the dealer assumes zero responsibility for repairs or service, irrespective of any spoken statements about the car. In fact, "as is" and warranty are inconsistent terms.
There is no such thing as an "as is" warranty. That said, the seller cannot misrepresent the vehicle, lie about it, or hide key facts about its condition (such as whether or not it was a lemon that was repurchased by a manufacturer or a salvage vehicle). In other words, "as is" doesn't mean fraud is okay.
Motorcycle Lemon Law
A defective motorcycle can be a huge hassle, especially if it spends more time at the repair shop than on the road. But more importantly, these defects can compromise your safety. If your motorcycle continually experiences issues which the dealer is unable to resolve, you may have a “lemon.”
In order to file a lemon law claim, you must meet the following criteria:
- You purchased or leased your motorcycle in the state of California
- Your motorcycle has a warranty that provides coverage for the defect you have encountered
- You brought your motorcycle to the manufacturer or to a repair shop authorized by the manufacturer to get the defect fixed a reasonable number of times, but the problem has not been resolved
Tips for Protecting Yourself When Buying a Motorcycle
Whether you're buying a new motorcycle off the lot or obtaining the ride secondhand from someone you've met on Craigslist, understand the implications of your purchase contract in the event that you encounter motorcycle warranty problems later. Ask questions, such as: Is the bike covered by a third party service contract? Are the seller's guarantees built into the contract or just verbally promised? Does your motorcycle come with the original warranty, or does it come with a renegotiated warranty?
- Thoroughly inspect your prospective bike before purchasing.
- Take a good test drive.
- Be diligent when it comes to your warranty.
- Document everything about your purchase, warranties, etc. to ensure you can prove anything that goes wrong with your motorcycle.
Motor Home Lemon Law
California consumer protection laws cover motor homes that are defective. It is presumed that the RV is a lemon if one of the following criteria exists:
- The motor home is out of service for repairs for more than 30 days in the first 18 months of ownership or 18,000 miles (whichever occurs first)
- There are two or more unsuccessful repairs for a problem that could lead to death or serious injury in the first 18 months of ownership or 18,000 miles (whichever occurs first)
- There are four or more unsuccessful repairs done by the manufacturer or dealer for a problem in the first 18 months of ownership or 18,000 miles (whichever occurs first)
In addition to the chassis, cab or portion of the motor home devoted to its propulsion, if the living quarters of your RV are defective and cannot be repaired after a reasonable number of attempts, you also have the right to receive your money back or a new replacement motor home. Therefore, you are still protected if there is a problem with your generator, bathroom, slide-outs, kitchen, or other part of the living quarters.
Seek Help from Our Experienced Lemon Law Attorney
If you are struggling because your vehicle may be a lemon or has had to have multiple repairs, our attorney can help. Contact the Law Offices of Howard D. Silver today for a free consultation. Our lawyer can help you seek compensation whether through arbitration, a settlement, or a trial.
Contact us today by filling out the contact form on this page or calling us at 818-597-2610. We proudly serve clients in Los Angeles, Riverside, Ventura, San Bernardino Counties, and all throughout California.