Kern County Lemon Law

Kern County Lemon Law

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Kern County Lemon Law Attorneys

Kern County, California, is dominated by the city of Bakersfield and its suburbs. Over 909,000 people call Kern County home, according to the US Census. Kern County is also home to Edwards Air Force Base, the China Lake Naval Air Weapons Station, and the Mojave Air and Space Port. 

As a major hub of California’s agriculture and oil industries, Kern County is also a major transportation crossroads. Residents and businesses rely on their vehicles every day to travel to work, school, and other activities. 

When a Kern County resident or small business owner buys a new vehicle, they expect it to be reliable. If your vehicle is in the shop more often than it’s on the road, you may have a lemon on your hands. The team at Wirtz Law can help. 

Kern County Lemon Vehicle Statistics 

The California Department of Motor Vehicles counted 814,019 total vehicle registrations in Kern County in 2021. These registrations include both first-time registrations and renewals. They cover over 478,000 passenger autos and nearly 204,000 trucks. 

How many of these vehicles are lemons? It’s difficult to estimate – but the number is almost certainly higher than court records indicate. 

Analysis by the California Public Interest Research Group (CALPIRG) found that between 2018 and 2021, 7.6 million new vehicles were registered in California, and 34,397 lemon law claims were filed in state courts. Lemon law claims made up 0.45 percent of all new vehicle registrations.

Yet most lemon law cases don’t end up in court. Instead, these claims are settled between the automaker and the auto owner or lessee with the help of an experienced lemon law attorney. Attorneys work to settle these claims without the stress and expense of a trial – but if a lawsuit must be filed, experienced lemon lawyers are ready. 

How Can I Tell if My Vehicle is a Lemon?

Not all malfunctioning vehicles are covered by California’s lemon law. Lemon law applies only to vehicles that meet certain requirements. 

To determine whether your vehicle falls under the lemon law, ask the following questions:

Were my repairs performed under warranty?

The lemon law covers defects in vehicles that occurred and were presented for repair while under an original or certified pre-owned (CPO) warranty. New vehicles typically come with a manufacturer’s warranty, while certified pre-owned vehicles may come with a CPO warranty. 

One of these two warranties must be in effect when the problems begin and are presented for repair, or the lemon law won’t apply. An extended service warranty isn’t enough for lemon law coverage, although it may give you other legal remedies. If you have questions about your warranty coverage, talk to an attorney. 

Do I meet the personal or small business ownership requirements?

California lemon law requires the person bringing the claim to meet certain ownership requirements, including:

  • Registration. Only registered vehicles are covered by lemon law.
  • Purchased or leased at retail. Private vehicle sales, such as a purchase from a neighbor or a used car ad, aren’t covered by lemon law. 
  • Bought for personal, family, household, or small business use. Vehicles bought for personal or household use or for certain small businesses are covered by lemon law.

Some small businesses are covered by the lemon law. Your small business vehicle may be covered if your business has five or fewer vehicles total (including the suspected lemon) and the vehicle’s curb weight is under 10,000 pounds. If these conditions don’t apply, you may have other legal remedies. 

What part of my vehicle is malfunctioning?

California’s lemon law covers any part of a car, pickup truck, van, EV or SUV that is covered by the vehicle’s warranty. It does not typically cover aftermarket add-on parts. Dealer-owned vehicles and vehicles kept for test driving or demonstration purposes are also covered under the lemon law. 

If you’ve bought or leased a motor home, you may also be protected by the lemon law. A motor home’s drive train, chassis, and chassis cab may be covered by lemon law protections. 

Have I given the manufacturer or dealership a “reasonable” number of attempts to fix the problem?

California lemon law gives vehicle owners rights – but it also created responsibilities. For instance, vehicle owners are required to give the manufacturer or dealership a reasonable number of attempts to repair the vehicle’s problems.

In general, the industry standard is to fix it right the first time. Under California’ lemon law, more than one repair attempt (or two attempts) are the minimum number of opportunities you must give to the automaker or its dealership to fix the car and make it free from defects.  

Also, a manufacturer or dealership is assumed to have had a reasonable attempt at repairs if the vehicle is in their possession for more than 30 days total for repairs. These 30 days may not need to occur all at once. 

When did the problem start?

The defects, which must substantially impair the use, value, or safety, of your vehicle, must occur during the warranty. If a defect first occurs after the expiration of the warranty, either by mileage or time, then that defect will not be considered under the lemon law.

If all of these conditions apply to your situation, you may have a lemon law claim. If your vehicle doesn’t meet all these requirements, however, don’t give up. Speak to a Kern County lemon law attorney. Even if lemon law doesn’t apply to your case, you may have other legal rights and options available. 

Rules for Active Duty Military Service Members Under Lemon Law

California’s lemon law applies to vehicles that are bought or leased within the state of California. Recognizing that many California residents are on active duty with the U.S. armed forces, however, the lemon law makes an exception for vehicles owned by military service members.

If you’re on active duty and facing lemon vehicle issues, talk to an experienced Kern County lemon law attorney today. A lawyer can help you determine if the exception applies to your vehicle. If it does, you may be able to bring a lemon law claim even if you didn’t buy or lease your vehicle in California.

What An Experienced Kern County Lemon Lawyer Can Do For You

California’s lemon law allows vehicle owners to bring their own lemon law claim. You aren’t required to work with a lawyer. 

In practice, however, many Kern County vehicle owners find that working with an experienced lemon law attorney makes the process easier and more effective. Your lawyer’s advice and experience can benefit you in several ways.

Here are three questions every California vehicle owner should ask when seeking an experienced lemon law attorney.

How will my attorney’s fees be paid?

Under California lemon law, an automaker must pay the attorney’s fees and costs for a vehicle owner if the vehicle is a lemon. If you win, you don’t pay attorney’s fees out of pocket. Instead, the automaker pays.

In addition, the best lemon law firms work “on contingency.” The contingency is that they don’t get paid if you don’t recover any compensation. This arrangement means you may be able to work with an experienced Kern County lemon lawyer without paying fees out of pocket. 

Should I accept the automaker’s offer of arbitration?

Many automakers push vehicle owners to go to arbitration instead of pursuing their claims in other ways. Automakers claim that arbitration is less costly than trial. 

Indeed, arbitration is often less expensive than a courtroom trial. For most California vehicle owners, however, the benefits of arbitration end there. Lemon law arbitration statistics show that automakers win claims in arbitration at much higher rates – and that they win more often even when the vehicle is an actual lemon. 

Don’t accept arbitration automatically or at all. Some manufacturers, like Tesla, require you to opt out of arbitration with 30 days of signing your purchase order and your sales agreement.  Talk to an experienced lemon law attorney to assist you with making the best decision. Attorneys have experience with arbitration. Your lawyer can explain why they believe arbitration is or is not the best choice in your specific situation. 

How much is my claim really worth? 

Most Californians are familiar with the lemon law’s promise of replacement or refund. The lemon law requires an automaker to provide either a “substantially similar” replacement vehicle or a refund. The auto owner gets to choose which one they prefer.

Replacement or refund is often the single largest part of a lemon law claim verdict or settlement. However, it is not the only compensation the lemon law provides to vehicle owners. 

The lemon law also covers “incidental and consequential damages.” These are costs you wouldn’t have had to pay if your vehicle had been reliable. For instance, towing fees to take your car to the repair shop often fall under incidental and consequential damages. The cost of a bus pass or rideshare charges so you can get to work without your car may also fall in this category.

In some situations, when the automaker willfully fails to buy back your vehicle and it qualities for a repurchase or a replacement, then you may also be entitled to civil penalty damages, which can be an amount up to two times the amount of your actual damages. 

Compensation also includes payment of your attorney’s fees by the automaker.   When you successfully resolve your case, then the automaker must pay your attorney’s fees, costs, and expenses. There should be no risk to you and your attorney can ensure you receive the full amount you’re due under state lemon law. 

If you’re facing the stress of ongoing vehicle issues, you may have a lemon on your hands. The experienced Kern County lemon law attorneys at Wirtz Law can help. We’ve successfully helped many clients understand their legal options and secure compensation under California lemon law. Contact us today to schedule a free, confidential consultation.

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