Lemon Law Lemon Checklist: Does My Car Qualify?
A bright yellow lemon looks like it should be delicious, but bite into one and you’ll quickly regret the decision. The promise of the appealing outside is quickly overwhelmed by the bitter taste within. This relatable experience is why defective vehicles are known as lemons.
A shiny new car can come with a strong brand reputation and raving customer reviews, but sometimes, internal defects sour the experience, putting stress on you and your wallet.
If you’ve had the misfortune of getting stuck with a defective vehicle, don’t despair. California lemon laws exist to protect customers like you from the expense and frustration of a vehicle that doesn’t deliver as promised.
Lemon Law Protections in the Golden State
Lemon laws can vary by state, but the guidelines for qualifications are similar. The California lemon law lays out the conditions under which a defective vehicle is protected and eligible for replacement.
A car or truck qualifies as a Lemon if:
- It is a new vehicle purchased or leased from a California dealer
- The California authorized repair facility (dealer) cannot repair your vehicle after a reasonable number of attempts under the warranty — it doesn’t have to be the same part
- The defect or defects in your vehicle have substantially impaired the use, value, or safety of the vehicle.
The California Lemon Law
The state of California lists specific conditions of purchase and maintenance that determine a vehicle’s eligibility for protection.
If you’re wondering whether you qualify for a repurchase or a replacement, you’ll first need to determine whether your vehicle meets California state requirements.
California lemon laws apply to new vehicles that are still under the new vehicle warranty, as long as they were leased or purchased in California.
There’s an additional clause that specifically protects members of the Armed Forces. If you were a full-time active-duty member of the Armed Forces and were living or stationed in the State of California at the time of purchase, your vehicle meets the requirements for California lemon law. This is true even if the vehicle was purchased outside of the state.
Car owners can’t immediately call for replacement or reimbursement. The law requires that vehicle owners attempt to make a reasonable number of repair attempts before the car qualifies as a lemon. In California, a reasonable number can be as little as 2 repair attempts.
A vehicle also qualifies if it has been unusable due to repair attempts for a minimum of 30 days. The 30 days may not need to be consecutive under certain circumstances.
There’s a final caveat that states that any issues with the vehicle cannot be related to improper use. This note is provided to protect the manufacturers from unfair claims. If you’ve been playing demolition derby with your new car, you’re out of luck! Similarly, you need to have properly maintained the vehicle.
Fortunately, the average consumer isn’t out to scam vehicle manufacturers. You just want a safe, working product, without safety concerns or the expense and inconvenience of ongoing repairs.
If your vehicle meets the requirements, the manufacturer is required to promptly repurchase your vehicle, in which case the manufacturer or distributor of your vehicle will buy it back. You may also opt for a replacement.
When you’re dealing with car issues on top of all of life’s other responsibilities, you may feel overwhelmed. You might dismiss small issues instead of taking on the time, expense, and inconvenience of bringing your car in for repairs. However, ignoring car issues, even small ones, might be a big mistake.
If you fail to notice and pursue repairs, you might miss the window of opportunity for receiving compensation. This is especially true when vehicle issues appear to be resolved immediately after service, only to pop up again weeks or months later.
Keep documentation of trips to the mechanic. Hold on to receipts and invoices as well, as these can serve as proof that the vehicle is eligible for replacement or reimbursement. Call our team to explore your options.
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