Monterey Lemon Law

Monterey Lemon Law

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Monterey Lemon Law Attorneys

Experienced Consumer Rights Lawyers Ensuring Vehicle Owners Receive the Safe and Reliable Vehicle They Thought They Had Purchased

Purchasing a new or lightly used vehicle should be a good experience. However, for many Monterey vehicle owners who end up with a Lemon, the experience can become more of a nightmare than they ever could have imagined. The good news is that California’s Lemon Law protects those who purchase new vehicles or those that are still under the original manufacturer’s warranty with a certified warranty. If you successfully bring a Lemon Law claim, the manufacturer or dealer may be required to buy back or replace your vehicle or otherwise fairly compensate you for the trouble you’ve been through. 

At Wirtz Law APC, our dedicated team of Monterey Lemon Law attorneys has decades of combined experience handling all types of Lemon Law claims. We command an impressive understanding of the complex laws that apply in these cases and how to effectively convince manufacturers that it’s in everyone’s best interest for them to compensate you without the need for litigation. However, as seasoned trial lawyers, we are always prepared to take our clients’ cases to trial when a manufacturer is unwilling to agree to a fair resolution. 

How Does California Law Define a “Lemon” Vehicle?

The term “Lemon” is used to describe a vehicle that consistently experiences the same defect or different defects that affects the use, value, or safety of the vehicle. Each state has its own Lemon Law, which outlines exactly how consumers can go about proving they purchased a Lemon. In California, a vehicle is considered a Lemon if it continues to exhibit the defect(s) after a “reasonable” number of attempts to resolve the problem. 

What Vehicles Are Covered Under the California Lemon Law?

California’s Lemon Law applies to all new vehicles as well as used vehicles that are under the manufacturer’s new vehicle warranty with a certified pre-owned warranty. For example, the following types of vehicles are covered under the California lemon law:

  • Cars 
  • SUVs
  • EVs
  • Pickup trucks 
  • Vans
  • The chassis, chassis cab, and drivetrain of motorhomes. 

However, the CA Lemon Law does not cover aftermarket parts installed on an otherwise qualifying vehicle, and, in some cases, installing aftermarket parts could jeopardize a Lemon Law claim. Additionally, for the most part, California’s lemon law does not apply to the following:

  • Off-road vehicles that are not registered under the California Vehicle Code; or 
  • Vehicles that have been “misused.”

What Types of Defects Are Covered by the California Lemon Law?

The CA Lemon law applies to all “substantial” defects that affect the use, value or safety of the vehicle. Unfortunately, California lawmakers did not define the term “substantial,” which has resulted in courts needing to interpret the word’s meaning. However, as a general rule, Monterey courts apply an objective test coupled with a subjective test when assessing the seriousness of a defect. This means that the court will consider a defect to be substantial when the average person in the circumstances of the vehicle owner would feel that it is so. For example, if a glove box light is not working, it may not rise to the level of a substantial defect. On the other hand, nauseating smells, mold, pitting paint, radio defects, or coolant leaks could all be considered substantial defects.

Why Bring a Lemon Law Claim?

While there are a few reasons why the California Lemon Law is important, most vehicle owners bring a Lemon Law claim in hopes of receiving compensation from the manufacturer. When you buy a new or used car, you assume that it is going to be safe, reliable, and hold its resale value. However, when this turns out not to be the case, your investment decreases in value. To make up for this, you can bring a Lemon Law claim. 

What Damages Are Available in a Monterey Lemon Law Case?

California law provides for several types of damages in Lemon Law cases. In general, owners of a Lemon are entitled to have the manufacturer either buy back or replace their vehicle, whichever the owner prefers. In some situations, the manufacturer may also be on the hook for a civil penalty, which is a type of punishment imposed for a willful violation of the CA Lemon Law. 

Damages in most Lemon Law claims fall into the following categories:

Replace or Repurchase: Generally speaking, the aggrieved owner gets to choose whether they want the manufacturer to buy back their vehicle or replace it with a new one. However, courts allow manufacturers to offset these damages based on the initial period of time that you were able to use the vehicle before the defect arose.

Attorney Fees: Consumers may be able to obtain attorney’s fees from the manufacturer if they successfully bring a Lemon Law claim. Initially, this may seem like it benefits lawyers more than it does consumers; however, that isn’t the case. Forcing the manufacturer to cover consumers’ legal fees does a few important things. First, it allows consumers to bring Lemon Law claims without fear that the damages they recover would largely end up going to their attorneys. It also means that there is no risk in hiring the best Monterey Lemon Law attorney available because if you win your case, the manufacturer will foot the bill. And, of course, if the manufacturer pays your legal fees, it means you get to keep more money. 

Finally, requiring vehicle manufacturers to pay attorney’s fees allows Monterey Lemon Law attorneys to take cases on a contingency basis. This means that a lawyer will take your case at no cost upfront and will only recover attorney’s fees if they can connect you with compensation. 

Incidental and Consequential Damages: Owners can also recover incidental damages and consequential damages. Consequential damages relate to any cost that was caused by the defect; for example, if a defect resulted in a fire that burned up the interior of your vehicle, you may recover damages to replace the interior of your vehicle. Incidental damages refer to any damages related to the inspection, repair, transportation, and storage of a lemon vehicle. 

Civil Penalties:  When the automaker or distributor willfully refuses to repurchase or replace a vehicle that qualifies as a lemon under California’s lemon law, the consumer is entitled to recover a civil penalty.  Civil penalties are additional damages above and beyond the damages above. The amount of a civil penalty can be up to two times a consumer’s actual damages. In other words, the California lemon law allows you to recover up to three times what you paid for the vehicle.

Frequently Asked Questions?

Is a Lemon the Same Thing as a Recalled Vehicle?

A recalled vehicle may be a Lemon and vice-versa, but that is not always going to be the case. This is because a product recall is a manufacturer’s request for consumers to bring back their vehicle based on some problem with the vehicle. For example, if a manufacturer learns that the accelerator used in a particular model of vehicle is prone to sticking, the manufacturer may decide to issue a recall. When a manufacturer recalls a vehicle, they will typically perform the needed repair at no cost to the consumer. Importantly, because recalls are expensive, vehicle manufacturers tend to only issue a recall when the underlying problem deals with the safety of the vehicle. 

The definition of a Lemon is different. The main question in a Lemon Law case is not whether the vehicle has a defect but whether the manufacturer was able to cure the defect within a reasonable number of attempts. If so, the vehicle is not a Lemon. 

An important difference between Lemons and recalled vehicles is that the underlying defect in a Lemon Law case doesn’t necessarily need to affect the safety of the vehicle.

How Long Do You Have to File a Lemon Law Claim in Monterey, California?

Lemon Law claims are technically considered a breach of the warranty claim. Under California law, consumers have four years to bring a breach of warranty claim, starting from the date of the alleged breach. Given the nature of Lemon Law claims, it is often up for dispute when a manufacturer allegedly breached the warranty. Thus, it is always a good idea to reach out to a Monterey Lemon Law lawyer as soon as you believe your car or truck might qualify as a Lemon. 

Are Lemon Vehicles Dangerous?

Lemon vehicles can be very dangerous, although a vehicle doesn’t need to be dangerous to be considered a Lemon under California law. Simply put, a Lemon is any vehicle that continues to experience one or more defects despite a “reasonable” number of attempts to fix the vehicle. While not every defect makes a car dangerous, those that impact the following systems are extremely hazardous:
• Braking system
• Engine or powertrain
• Cooling system
• Steering system 
• Tires 
• Drive train 
• Accelerator, and
• Electrical system.

Can You Bring a Lemon Law Claim Based on Cosmetic Defects?

Yes, it is possible to bring a Monterey Lemon Law claim based solely on a cosmetic defect, provided that the defect affects the use, value, or safety of the vehicle. In the case of a cosmetic defect, consumers probably have the best argument that the defect hurt the value of their car. However, minor defects may not rise to the level of a substantial defect, which is a requirement under the California Lemon Law. 

Are You Wondering Whether Your Recent Vehicle Purchase Is a Lemon?

If you recently purchased a new car or a used car that was still under the original manufacturer’s warranty and are frustrated with the number of times you’ve had to take your car into the shop, it may be a Lemon. If so, the dedicated Monterey Lemon Law lawyers at Wirtz Law APC, are here to help. At Wirtz Law APC, we have a stellar track record of success, recovering compensation on behalf of our clients in more than 97 percent of the cases we handle. Over the years, our efforts have resulted in more than $45 million going back into our clients’ pockets. To learn more, and to schedule a free consultation with a Monterey Lemon Law attorney at Wirtz Law APC, call 858-259-5009 today. You can also contact us through our secure online contact form.

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Over 97% Success Rate

In Lemon Law Claims

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Words can not explain how grateful I am for such a great team. Every single person at Wirtz law was amazing. They gave me nothing but kindness and encouragement during such a stressful time in my life. They were always willing to help in any way. My attorney Jessica was so outgoing and quick with…

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Phone | (858) 259-5009