San Luis Obispo Lemon Law
San Luis Obispo Lemon Law Attorneys
Anyone who has traveled near Auto Park Way in San Luis Obispo has probably realized that the options for purchasing a car are seemingly endless. While there are many benefits to buying a car in California, the consequences of inadvertently purchasing a lemon can cause ongoing financial and personal problems. Fortunately, California has many “lemon laws” to address situations where consumers unknowingly purchase a defective or problem vehicle.
The California lemon law attorneys at Wirtz Law APC have an impressive track record recovering significant amounts of compensation for our clients throughout California, including San Luis Obispo and the surrounding areas. Our local attorneys have positive working relationships with the judges in the area and understand how federal, state, and local laws impact lemon law claims in the area. Contact our office at (858) 259-5009 to schedule a free consultation with one of our motivated and dedicated San Luis Obispo car attorneys.
What Types of Vehicles Qualify as “Lemons”?
Most people have heard the term “lemon” about a broken or unreliable vehicle. However, the word has a nuanced and specific meaning in the legal context. Under California law, a car qualifies as a lemon if it has a defect covered by a warranty that substantially impairs its safety, use, or value.
California’s lemon law applies to new and used vehicles with a manufacturer’s new vehicle warranty. This applies to cars, pickup trucks, vans, and SUVs. Further, the law includes the chassis, chassis cab, and drive train of a motor home. Additionally, many vehicles leased primarily for business or household purposes can utilize the state’s lemon law protections.
Recent Vehicle Recalls
Statistics from The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) indicate that there has been nearly 400 million vehicle recalls stemming from safety problems since 1966. Some recent recalls involve:
- Fiat Chrysler Automobiles (FCA) recalled its Dodge Challenger, Charger, and Chrysler over-discharged TPMS sensor batteries.
- Porsche recalled 911 GT3 vehicles over improperly tightened seatbelt anchors.
- Due to a fire risk, Hyundai recalls older Santa Fe Sport vehicles.
- Volvo recalled 15,000 plug-in vehicles over a software issue.
- Tesla recalled some Model 3 Sedans over safety risks involving the vehicle’s seatbelts.
- Ford recalled 26 units of its Bronco Sport over a potential engine stall.
- Jeep Wrangler 4×4 was recalled because of unsecured fuses inside its high-voltage batteries.
Although manufacturers issue recalls for many different reasons, every recall is essential. Safety defects put people at risk, and these recalls should be taken seriously.
Lemon Warranties and Compensation
California’s consumer protection laws allow qualifying used lemon vehicle owners to receive a refund or replacement, plus additional compensation for related damages. Sometimes, a manufacturer may settle the lemon law claim quickly. However, many want to protect their reputation and financial standing and employ delay tactics to avoid paying a settlement or providing a replacement.
What is a Lemon Law Buyback?
A vehicle may qualify for a lemon law buyback if it has been re-acquired (that is, bought back because it was a lemon) by the manufacturer, on or after January 1, 1996, because of a specific warranty defect. The vehicle must have been registered in the manufacturer’s name before resale to a public consumer to qualify.
The law requires manufacturers to:
- Request that the state’s Certificate of Title and registration mark the vehicle as a “lemon law buyback;”
- Title the car in the manufacturer’s name; and
- Attach a decal that notifies the public that the vehicle is a “lemon law buyback.”
Similarly, the law requires sellers to notify the purchasers of the following:
- The vehicle’s identification number, year, make, and model;
- The vehicle title is marked as a buyback;
- The nature of any reported defects; and
- Any repair attempts made to rectify each defect.
Although the law mandates these requirements, it is wise that consumers specifically ask the seller whether the vehicle was a lemon law buyback.
Can Your Lemon Vehicle Be Replaced?
In some cases, owners can request a replacement instead of a buyback. The owner can ask the manufacturer to exchange the original defective vehicle for an equivalent model. The replacement must be fundamentally the same as the original. The replacement vehicle’s model, interior, color, year, options, and make should be nearly identical to the original vehicle.
Does the Lemon Law Account for Mileage Offsets?
Yes, California’s lemon law does allow manufacturers to use a mileage offset when refunding the owner for the defective vehicle. The law allows the manufacturer to deduct a prorated amount from the total reimbursement for the time the owner drove the car before experiencing any issues. The mileage offset formula is the number of miles the owner could get from the problem vehicle before it was taken to an authorized repair shop, divided by 120,000 (California’s statutory average lifespan of a car). That total is multiplied by the cash purchase amount the owner paid to arrive at the mileage offset.
In many cases, the manufacturers will unfairly use the mileage offset to their advantage. Even if a manufacturer concedes that the car is a lemon, they might miscalculate the mileage offset to reduce their liability and subsequent losses. Contentions often involve when the owner first takes the vehicle in to repair the defect at issue.
The manufacturer may attempt to set that date as late as possible by purporting that any earlier repairs were for a different problem. A lemon law attorney can work through these contentions and ensure that the manufacturer fully compensates the owner for their losses.
How Do Vehicle Recalls Impact a Lemon Law Claim?
Many popular vehicle manufacturers such as Audi, BMW, Ford, and Toyota have sold millions of vehicles over the past several years. Sometimes, the manufacturer voluntarily issues a recall for a safety defect before it causes a severe injury or fatality. In most situations, the recalls come after consumers file complaints about the safety or efficacy of the vehicle. It rarely happens voluntarily by the automakers.
California’s lemon law may apply to calls that have been recalled. However, many recall problems are fixed on the first attempt, which complicates the analysis of whether your vehicle qualifies as a lemon. Contacting an experienced lemon law attorney at Wirtz Law APC can help you figure out your lemon law rights.
On the other hand, those whose vehicles were subject to multiple recalls or repair attempts may have a clearer path to a lemon law claim.
However, in most cases, the manufacturer will not cover all the incidental expenses related to the recall. For instance, the recall notice does not typically account for towing charges, previous repair attempts, car rentals, and other related losses. A lemon law lawyer can help used car owners recover the maximum compensation the law entitles.
What Happens During A Lemon Law Case? – A Guide to California Lemon Law Infographic
Was Your Recent San Luis Obispo Vehicle Purchase a Lemon? Contact Wirtz Law APC Today
Buying a vehicle is a significant expense; when you lay out that money, you expect to get precisely what you paid for. However, the unfortunate reality is that car dealerships and manufacturers may hide serious issues with used cars.
If you are fed up, have had enough, and think your car is a lemon, call us as soon as possible. If your vehicle is a lemon, we will take your case at no charge to you on a contingency fee basis. We provide one of the best Lemon Law attorney services everywhere in California, including Southern California, Northern California, Central California, and Eastern California.
At Wirtz Law APC, our experienced San Luis Obispo lemon law attorneys have years of hands-on experience helping aggrieved vehicle owners benefit from the bargain they agreed to when buying a car. We have over a 97 percent success rate among the cases we’ve handled and have recovered more than $45 million on behalf of our clients. To learn more and schedule a free consultation with a San Luis Obispo lemon law attorney, call 858-259-5009 today. You can also connect with us through our online contact form.
Over 97% Success Rate
In Lemon Law Claims
Jessica and Rich were great! They made the trial process very clear and understandable. I felt very supported throughout the process. Thanks!