How Does the Lemon Law Work in California?

How Does the Lemon Law Work in California?

If you excitedly purchased a vehicle only to discover that it has chronic electrical or mechanical defects, you may be wondering “how does the lemon law work in California?”  Well, you’ve come to the right place!  Neale & Fhima has been helping clients win lemon law claims for decades.

California’s Song-Beverly Consumer Warranty Act (lemon law) provides protections to consumers so they’re not stuck with a defective vehicle after purchase.  If you can prove your car, truck, SUV, or motorcycle is a lemon, you could be entitled to a refund or vehicle replacement at the manufacturer’s expense. At Neale & Fhima, we fight aggressively to enforce the lemon law rights of our clients. California’s lemon law applies to both new and some used vehicles.

To prevail in a lemon law claim, you will have to show that you made “reasonable attempts” to repair the problem.  These guidelines include:

  1. The vehicle had a minimum of two repairs attempted for a defect that could lead to death or serious injury.
  2. You brought the vehicle to the dealership at least four times to remedy the exact same flaw.
  3. The vehicle has been at an authorized dealership for repairs of the same defect for at least 30 days since you acquired it.

If your vehicle falls under these guidelines and is 18 months old or less and has under 18,000 miles on the odometer, then you will likely have a successful lemon law claim. However, even if your vehicle falls outside the above guidelines, you may still be entitled to a legal remedy.  The lemon law attorneys at Neale & Fhima have had outstanding success in finding ways to qualify defective vehicles for lemon law protection.

Why Choose Us?

There are a lot of lemon law lawyers in California to choose from, but we believe the attorneys at Neale & Fhima outshine the competition.  That’s because we have an outstanding track record of success in handling claims for our clients!  Attorney Aaron Fhima has decades of experience in aggressively representing lemon law clients. He is supported by a legal team that shows compassion and care for each client we serve.  We receive outstanding testimonials from our many satisfied clients, and we offer a free initial consultation about your case.  You are under no obligation.

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We have a 99% success rate in lemon law cases.

Lemon Law FAQs

We’ve been handling lemon law cases for decades, and we hear some of the same questions over and over from clients.  Here’s a list of commonly asked questions and answers that we hope is helpful.

What kinds of vehicles are covered under California lemon law?

Many types of vehicles are covered under the California lemon law, including cars, trucks, SUVs, motor homes, boats, travel trailers, motorcycles and other vehicles licensed by the Department of Motor Vehicles for road travel.  All-terrain vehicles (ATVs) are not covered by the California lemon law because they are not made for on-road use.

What are my options for a legal remedy?

Generally, you have two options for a lemon law remedy.  You can choose a “repurchase” (buyback) option in which the dealership refunds your down payment, taxes, monthly payments to date, and pays off your car loan (if applicable) while repossessing the vehicle.  Or you can choose the “replacement” option in which the manufacturer trades your defective vehicle for a similar car, truck, or SUV without a defect.  In some limited circumstances, we may be able to negotiate a third option – “cash and keep” – in which the dealer pays you a sum of money to compensate for the defect and you keep your vehicle.

What kinds of defects are not covered under the lemon law?

The California lemon law does not cover defects caused by motor vehicle accidents, owner abuse, repair attempts by unauthorized agents, and after-market installations. It’s very important that you take your vehicle to an authorized dealer when making repair attempts to fix your defective vehicle.  Do not try to make repairs yourself or use an independent neighborhood mechanic.

What should I do if a dealer committed fraud and misrepresented the quality of the vehicle I purchased?

Even if your vehicle doesn’t qualify for lemon law protection, you may have a legal claim based on dealer fraud.  The California Department of Motor Vehicles publishes a Car Buyer’s Bill of Rights explaining a consumer’s legal recourse if they’ve been misled by a dealer.  You can file a Record of Complaint Form with the DMV or contact the Office of the California Attorney General.

Does the lemon law cover defects in the batteries of electric vehicles?

The lemon law covers all aspects of electric vehicles, including defective batteries.  Please keep in mind, however, that Tesla purchase agreements signed on the day of sale can limit your legal recourse.  Read these documents carefully before signing.

Who pays my legal fees in a lemon law case?

The good news is that the vehicle manufacturer pays your attorney fees in a successful lemon law claim.  These fees are part of the settlement agreement or jury award.

The lemon law attorneys at Neale & Fhima have an outstanding record of success in helping clients with defective vehicles get the justice they deserve.  We understand the complexities of the lemon law and can anticipate and outmaneuver any objections raised by the vehicle manufacturer.

Filing a Lemon Law Claim

To qualify for lemon law protection, the defect in question must substantially impair the USE, VALUE, or SAFETY of your vehicle.  For example, defective steering or malfunctioning airbags would certainly impair the safety of a vehicle, and a defective paint job with corrosion would definitely impact its resale value.  But a minor scratch or small tear in the carpet would not typically rise to the level of a successful lemon law claim.  If you’re unsure whether your vehicle’s defect qualifies for lemon law protection, speak to an attorney who knows how to win these cases.  Neale & Fhima would be glad to answer your questions and assess your case.  Call us at 877-308-2128.

Before filing a legal claim, though, you must make a reasonable number of attempts to get your vehicle repaired by a certified dealer.  This may mean two or more visits to the mechanic, depending on the dangerousness of the defect.  You’re required to show that you made a good-faith effort to get your vehicle fixed, so save all work orders, spare parts, and receipts from your repair attempts, and then call an experienced lemon law attorney.

Don’t miss the deadline for filing your claim.  Contact a successful lemon law attorney right away.

Lemon Law Statute of Limitations

The statute of limitations for filing a lemon law claim in California is four (4) years from the date a consumer knew or should have known that the vehicle was a lemon. This does not mean that if you have had your vehicle for more than 4 years, you cannot bring a lemon law claim. Our attorneys at Neale & Fhima have successfully “lemoned” vehicles that are over 10 years old. If you have purchased or leased a lemon, you’ll want to start the buyback process as soon as possible.  After the statute of limitations passes, a judge may dismiss your case.  Don’t hesitate to contact our team if you have questions about the statute of limitations.

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What Is Lemon Law Buyback?

A “buyback” is when a dealer agrees to repurchase your vehicle by refunding your down payment, taxes, fees, and any monthly payments you’ve made to date.  The dealer will also pay off any car loan you may have by sending a check directly to the lending institution.  Keep in mind that your total refund will be reduced by the number of miles you drove the vehicle, based on a pre-determined mileage formula.

How Long Does a Lemon Law Buyback Take?

Depending on the complexity of the case, a lemon law buyback can occasionally be resolved in as little as 30 days, though often these cases take 90 to 180 days.  Simple cases tend to resolve quickly, while more complex cases can take more time.  Your lemon law attorney can give you a better estimate of the time frame after reviewing the particulars in your case.

Contact a Skilled California Lemon Law Attorney Today

The skilled and experienced attorneys at Neale & Fhima know how to fight and win lemon law cases.  You don’t have to get stuck with a vehicle that keeps breaking down and causing you headaches.  The California lemon law has established legal remedies that are designed to make you whole again.  Our attorneys know how to make the law work to your advantage. To find out more about how we can help, call us for a free consultation at 877-308-2128.  You are under no obligation.

Attorney Aaron Fhima

Attorney Aaron Fhima is a trial attorney who has secured numerous settlements and verdicts against large corporations and some of the largest auto manufacturers in the world. Representing consumers and injury victims throughout the state of California, Aaron’s practice areas include personal injury, and lemon law litigation. Aaron has a long record of success taking on large defense firms; and he doesn’t hesitate to take cases to trial when necessary to enforce his clients’ rights.