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California Lemon Law FAQ - CA Lemon Law Questions

California Lemon Law Common Questions

What are the California Lemon Laws? What are my legal rights?

A: California has consumer protection laws, called the "Lemon Laws." If your situation qualifies we will be able to have the manufacturer take your vehicle back and recover most of your monies.

How do I know if my lemon situation qualifies?"

A: Basically, so long as your vehicle has a manufacturing defect which affects safety, value, or use, and it cannot be repaired after a reasonable number of attempts by the manufacturer's or dealer's service personnel, and the original repair occurred within the new car warranty period, then the vehicle is likely entitled to these legal protections.

Do the California "Lemon Laws" cover used vehicles?"

A: A used vehicle only qualifies for protection under the California Lemon Laws if it was purchased with an unused portion of the manufacturer's original, new car warranty remaining at the time of purchase. For example, if the vehicle was originally covered by the manufacturer's 36 months/36,000 miles warranty, then it must have been purchased as a used vehicle within 36 months of the time that the vehicle first went into service, and with fewer than 36,000 miles on the odometer at the time of purchase. Manufacturers' new car warranties differ and you should check the original owner's manual to determine the limits of your new car warranty. Note that an extended service contract is not the same as the manufacturer's new car warranty and does not change the requirement stated above.

I am NOT in California, where can I get help?

Please contact you local county bar association.

What is the "Lemon Law" presumption?

A: The California "Lemon Law" presumption is a legal device which is only meaningful if negotiations with the manufacturer fail and you must resort to litigation. It allows the consumer/plaintiff to establish at trial that she or he has met the plaintiff's required burden of proof that the vehicle is a lemon, and shifts the legal burden to the manufacturer to prove otherwise. That's all it does. And note too, it is not necessary to satisfy the "presumption" before filing a lemon law claim.

The "Lemon Law" presumption states that if you have:

  1. Purchased or leased a new car, truck, motorcycle, or motorhome
  2. for personal or small business use, and
  3. if during the first 18 months or 18,000 miles you brought the vehicle to a dealer for repair of the same or similar problem three or more times, or only two or times if the manufacturing defect results in a condition that is likely to cause death or serious bodily injury, or
  4. if it was out of service for a total of more than 30 days within that time, and
  5. the problem is still not fixed, then
  6. the legal presumption is established.

Do I have to qualify for the "legal presumption?"

A: No. The presumption is neither a requirement nor a prerequisite. There are many situations which do not exactly meet the "Lemon Law" presumption, but which may still entitle you to "Lemon Law" protection. So long as the defect substantially affects safety, value, or use, and first occurred within the new car warranty period, and cannot be repaired after a reasonable number of repair attempts, the vehicle is entitled to these legal protections. One of our attorneys will be glad to review your situation to see whether it is covered.

The dealer has told me that he will repurchase my vehicle under the Lemon Laws. Why do I have to go any further?

A: Dealers are in business to sell cars. They will frequently tell a consumer that they will repurchase your vehicle under the Lemon Laws when this is merely a guise to "trade up" the consumer into a new car. Lemon laws create a relationship between the consumer and the manufacturer. The dealer has nothing to do with that relationship. Therefore the decision to repurchase a vehicle can only be made by the manufacturer. Nevertheless, you should be very careful in the things that you say to dealer personnel as oftentimes a record is made of those comments and later, when the manufacturer is investigating your Lemon Law demand for repurchase, those comments may come back to haunt you. In other words, the less said to dealer personnel the better off you will be.

What am I entitled to recover?

A: If you qualify, we will be able to recover your down payment, (including registration fees, licensing fees, taxes, transportation costs, etc.), plus your total monthly lease or loan payments, plus attorneys' fees, less a "usage fee" based on mileage, as allowed under the CA Lemon Laws.

Do I need to first go through arbitration?

A: NO, you do not need to first go through arbitration to make a "Lemon Law" claim. In fact, arbitration can be dangerous because if the decision is against you, that decision may later be used as evidence against you in any subsequent court action which you may file against the manufacturer.

Why should I retain your firm to represent me?

A: Because attempting to resolve matters with manufacturers is a long and aggravating process, which usually will not result in a satisfactory resolution. The manufacturer can prolong a settlement offer for many months, and then make only a minor settlement offer such as an offer to pay one or two months of your loan or lease payments, but without repurchasing your vehicle. Manufacturers know that eventually you will tire of pursuing the claim and then either walk away from it entirely or take the minimal amount being offered.

Our firm has over 27 years of experience in dealing with nearly every kind of manufacturer of motor vehicles and have represented thousands of clients throughout the state of California. When we submit a demand on your behalf, the manufacturer is more likely to respect the legitimacy of your claim and our long experience in handling such matters.

How long does the Lemon Law process take?

A: The manufacturer is required to respond within 30 days to our formal legal demand. Once you have accepted a satisfactory offer, it takes approximately another 15 to 30 days to return the vehicle and receive your payment from the manufacturer.

What about attorney's fees?

A: With our "no recovery no fees" policy, if you do not recover a satisfactory settlement, you pay nothing. We do not require any up-front retainer. Your portion of the attorneys' fees, if any, comes out of the monies we recover for you from the manufacturer.

What do I have to do?

A: Call 888 EX LEMON for a free consultation or submit our Lemon Law Case Review Form. You then mail, fax, or e-mail your documents for our lemon law analysis. Once we have reviewed and accepted your case, discussed it with you, and you have retained our firm, we do it all. Your main requirement after that will be to return the vehicle to the manufacturer with just normal wear and tear, and receive your payment.

Is that all I have to do?

A: That is all you need to do. We will work diligently and aggressively with the manufacturer on your behalf during this entire period, keeping you posted on the progress of your case along the way.

Does your firm handle other kinds of cases ?

A: We are a full service law firm specializing exclusively in "Lemon Law" and related vehicular and consumer protection cases. We handle "Lemon Law" cases for clients throughout the entire State of California. With many cases, you don't even need to meet with us because once you fax, mail, or e-mail your documents, we do it all . . . without any inconvenience to you.

How do I contact you?

A: Just submit our Lemon Law Case Review Form or call us at 888 EX LEMON (888 395 3666). Our toll free fax number is 888 270 0079.

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California Lemon Law Book

The Law Offices of Delsack & Associates has published an orientation guide to the California Lemon Law in the interest of consumer protection and awareness.

Read More Here