California Lemon Law

California Lemon Law

Our consumer protection practice focuses on California Lemon Law.

Buying a new car can be highly stressful.  Most consumers will spend hours researching price, safety and reliability as they pour over the latest consumer ratings.  After all, nobody wants to get stuck with a “Lemon”.  Luckily for California consumers, our state has one of the best Lemon Laws in the nation.  Unfortunately, there are many myths about how the Lemon Law works.  We have met individuals who may have had a potential claim but ended up trading their vehicle or selling it at a loss because they were unaware of their rights under the California Lemon Law.

Lemon Law Myth #1:  The Lemon Law is for old or used cars.  Actually, the opposite is true.  The California Lemon Law applies to the purchase of a new (or pre-owned) or leased car which is under the manufacturer’s original warranty.

The two main issues in a Lemon Law claim are: (1) whether the car has a substantial defect, such as engine or brake problems, (2) which affects the use, safety or value of the car and (3) whether the dealership had a reasonable opportunity to repair the car.  If the consumer can show all three elements, then the consumer has the option of demanding that the manufacturer buy back the car OR replace the car.

Lemon Law Myth #2The Lemon Law applies only to defects that commenced within the first 18 months of ownership.  The Lemon Law applies to defects that occurred or commenced during the warranty period.  Most cars have a 3 year or 36,000 mile warranty period but some have 4 years or 50,000 miles.  As long as the problem started during the warranty, you may have a Lemon Law claim.

Lemon Law Myth #3:  The consumer must pay for the use of the vehicle.  Not completely true.  There may be a mileage offset based on the mileage on the odometer at the time the consumer first reported the vehicle to the dealership for repair of the problem or defect. The mileage offset will vary depending on the odometer reading on the car at the time the problem appeared.  In most cases the mileage offset is usually deducted from the consumer’s refund and the consumer still walks away with a good refund.

In order to preserve a possible California Lemon Law claim, you should promptly take your car to the dealership at the first sign of any problem or defect.  Please contact us for a free Lemon Law case review.