Is There a Time Limit to File a Lemon Law Claim in California?
- February 10, 2023
- Categories: Lemon Law
If you’re wondering “is there a time limit to file a lemon law claim in California?”, the answer is “Yes.” It’s very important that you do not let the statute of limitations run out, or you could miss your opportunity to get a refund or a replacement vehicle.
What Is the Lemon Law Statute of Limitations in CA?
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, however, that if you have owned or leased 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 more than 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 expires, a judge may dismiss your case, barring you from a legal remedy. Don’t hesitate to contact our team if you have questions about the statute of limitations. Collect copies of your repair bills, work orders, and payment receipts and call an experienced lemon law attorney today.
Don’t delay if you believe your car, truck, or SUV is a lemon. You must file a legal claim before the statute of limitations runs out!
What Must I Do to Prove My Lemon Law Claim?
As with all legal claims, you must meet certain requirements to be entitled to a legal remedy. In lemon law cases, you must show (a) you have a particular warranty, (b) the defect is “substantial,” (c) you’ve made the required repair attempts, and (d) the statute of limitations has not expired. Let’s take a closer look at each of these …
With new cars, it helps if the original manufacturer’s warranty is still in effect. But it’s often not mandatory. Our experienced lemon law attorneys have successfully “lemoned” all kinds of vehicles, even older ones. With used cars, generally you’re required to have one of three kinds of warranties to qualify. These are (1) transferred new car warranty, (2) certified pre-owned warranty, and (3) lemon law buyback warranty.
2. “SUBSTANTIAL” DEFECT
This refers to the nature of the defect. The defect must substantially compromise the vehicle’s USE, VALUE or SAFETY. However, the defect does not have to place you in imminent danger to qualify.
3. REPAIR ATTEMPTS
The law allows a dealership to make good-faith efforts to repair a problem before you can file a legal claim. The number of attempts required depends on the potential danger posed by the defect. You can read more about this in a section below.
4. STATUTE OF LIMITATIONS
Again, you must meet that 4-year statute of limitations in California for the lemon law to apply. The sophistication and experience of your attorney can sometimes determine whether there’s a way to qualify your vehicle, regardless of how long you’ve owned it or how old it is. Even if another lawyer has told you that your vehicle doesn’t qualify for lemon law protection, call Neale & Fhima anyway. We know the law so thoroughly that we’ve often found ways to qualify vehicles in unique situations.
Does the Lemon Law Cover Electric Vehicles?
Yes, the California lemon law covers electric vehicles just like it covers traditional combustion engine vehicles, and the statute of limitations is the same for both. However, the parts and systems that prove to be defective may be different.
For example, the types of things that might be defective in gasoline-powered vehicles could include:
- Exhaust system
- Engine troubles
- Transmission malfunctions
- Drivetrain defects
- Brake problems
- Faulty airbags or mirrors
- Radio and navigation problems
- Electrical malfunctions
- Difficulty with other mechanical and electrical systems.
The types of things that most commonly have defects in EVs include:
- Lithium-ion battery defects (including battery fires)
- Problems with sensitive navigation and radio system
- In-car electronics defects
- Climate systems flaws.
Keep in mind that Tesla purchase agreements signed on the date of sale can limit your legal recourse if you later discover something is defective with your EV, so read these documents carefully before signing.
When Have I Made Enough Repair Attempts to File a Lemon Law Claim?
The California lemon law, officially known as the Song-Beverly Consumer Warranty Act (California Civil Code, beginning at section 1790) requires that you make a reasonable number of attempts to have your vehicle repaired by an authorized agent before filing a lemon law claim. And California Civil Code section 1793.22(b) lays out the requirements for repair attempts as follows:
(b) It shall be presumed that a reasonable number of attempts have been made to conform a new motor vehicle to the applicable express warranties if, within 18 months from delivery to the buyer or 18,000 miles on the odometer of the vehicle, whichever occurs first, one or more of the following occurs:
(1) The same nonconformity results in a condition that is likely to cause death or serious bodily injury if the vehicle is driven and the nonconformity has been subject to repair two or more times by the manufacturer or its agents, and the buyer or lessee has at least once directly notified the manufacturer of the need for the repair of the nonconformity.
(2) The same nonconformity has been subject to repair four or more times by the manufacturer or its agents, and the buyer has at least once directly notified the manufacturer of the need for the repair of the nonconformity.
(3) The vehicle is out of service by reason of repair of nonconformities by the manufacturer or its agents for a cumulative total of more than 30 calendar days since delivery of the vehicle to the buyer. The 30-day limit shall be extended only if repairs cannot be performed due to conditions beyond the control of the manufacturer or its agents.
Sometimes there can be wiggle room and uncertainty about exactly how many repair attempts are required in a particular situation, so the best way to determine if you’ve met the repair-attempt threshold is to speak to a skilled and experienced California lemon law attorney. At Neale & Fhima, we offer free consultations, so what have you got to lose? Call us at 949-661-1007 and we will assess your claim.
Why Choose Neale & Fhima?
There are a lot of lemon law attorneys in California to choose from, but we believe the lawyers at Neale & Fhima offer clients a competitive edge. That’s because we have a 99% track record of success in handling lemon law claims. Attorney Aaron Fhima has decades of experience in aggressively and persuasively representing clients. He is supported by a legal team that shows compassion and professionalism to each client we serve. We receive positive testimonials from many satisfied clients, and we offer a free initial consultation about your case. You are under no obligation.
Neale & Fhima has a 99% success rate in lemon law cases.
Lemon Law Remedies: The Choice Is Up to You
When you win a lemon law claim, you choose the remedy that works best for you based on your personal circumstances. Remedies include:
Often called a “buyback,” the manufacturer will take possession of the defective car or truck and issue you a refund of the purchase price. The price will be reduced by a mileage formula to account for your use prior to the first repair attempt. If you financed the vehicle, the manufacturer will refund the down payment, taxes, registration fees, and monthly payments you’ve made so far. It will also pay off the auto loan, if there is one, by sending a check directly to the bank.
The manufacturer will take possession of your defective car or truck and give you a replacement vehicle of identical or similar make and model. The manufacturer will pay the registration and taxes on the replacement vehicle.
- “Cash and Keep”
In some circumstances, we can negotiate an option called a “cash and keep.” This allows you to keep possession of your current vehicle and get a cash payment to compensate for the defect.
Contact a Skilled Lemon Law Attorney at Neale & Fhima Today
The lemon law can be confusing, especially if you’re uncertain about whether the statute of limitations has expired in your case. We can assess this for you and give you a legal opinion. A simple phone call to our office is all it takes. Our sophisticated and experienced lemon law attorneys have often found ways to “lemon” a vehicle even if it appears the statute of limitations has run out. Decades of experience in lemon law really helps and can make all the difference. To find out how we can help, call us for a free consultation at 949-661-1007.
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.