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How Long Do I Have to File a Lemon Law Lawsuit?

For many people, buying a vehicle is one of the biggest investments they will make. When you’re spending more money than you do on just about anything else, you want to make sure you’re protected if your new vehicle turns out to be the dreaded lemon.

Fortunately, California has laws in place to protect consumers. The California Lemon Law is designed to protect you in case the vehicle you buy turns out to be defective and unable to be repaired. 

But how long after buying a vehicle are you protected by the California Lemon Law? Is there a statute of limitations? In this blog post, we’ll tackle these questions and more. When you’re done reading, you’ll have a foundational understanding of your rights under this law. 

What is the California Lemon Law?

The California Lemon Law has long been established as the standard for consumer protection in our state. Essentially, the law says that anyone who buys or leases a  vehicle in California should not have to pay for repairs or replacements when a defect affects the use, value, or safety of that vehicle. 

This law even goes so far as to protect full-time active-duty members of the Armed Forces stationed in California. Even if they purchased or registered their vehicle outside the state, they are protected.

According to the California Lemon Law, the manufacturer has an opportunity to make a “reasonable” number of attempts at repair. If the problem cannot be taken care of in a reasonable amount of time, the manufacturer is required to buy back or replace the vehicle.

Of course, there are a few actions that can void your rights under the Lemon Law. If you use your vehicle in an unauthorized or unreasonable way, the manufacturer may not be liable for the repairs.

How many repair attempts are a “reasonable” number?

The answer to this question depends largely on the situation and the vehicle. At the very least, the manufacturer is allowed two attempts at repairing the vehicle before they must offer a refund or replacement. If you believe that your vehicle has been subjected to an unreasonable number of repairs, it may be time to call an attorney.

What is the statute of limitations for the Lemon Law?

For a vehicle to qualify under the Lemon Law, the defect must become apparent within the first 18 months of ownership or before the first 18,000 miles have been reached (whichever comes first).  

From the time you notice the defect, you have four years to file a lawsuit. After that time frame is up, you have surpassed the statute of limitations and are no longer entitled to legal action. That’s why it’s wise to contact an attorney early on in the proceedings. That way, you don’t run the risk of missing your deadline.

What should I do if a manufacturer won’t repair or replace my vehicle?

If you notice a defect that you believe qualifies under the Lemon Law, your first course of action should be to contact the dealership or manufacturer from which you purchased the vehicle. Should the manufacturer refuse to repair the defect or replace the vehicle, you must contact an attorney. It may be time to pursue arbitration. 

Of course, you’re not legally obligated to hire an attorney. But doing so gives you access to resources and guidance you wouldn’t otherwise have. An attorney from Wirtz Law APC can help you gather evidence, share that evidence, and pursue a fair settlement. Give us a call today.

For more information call the experienced trial attorneys at (858) 259-5009 for a free case evaluation.


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