Stockton Lemon Law

Stockton Lemon Law

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Stockton Lemon Law Attorneys

Knowledgeable Lawyers Helping Vehicle Owners and Lessors Hold Manufacturers Accountable for Their Defective Vehicles

The California Lemon Law is a powerful consumer protection statute that provides legal remedies for buyers or lessees of defective vehicles. Enacted to safeguard the rights and interests of consumers, the law ensures that owners are not left with vehicles that have significant defects, impairing their use, value, or safety. With a strong emphasis on consumer rights, the California Lemon Law aims to hold manufacturers accountable for providing reliable and safe products.

At Wirtz Law APC, our dedicated team of Stockton Lemon Law Attorneys has decades of experience helping clients who purchased or leased defective vehicles bring vehicle defect claims against manufacturers. Over the years, we’ve been able to succeed in over 97 percent of our clients’ Lemon Law cases, returning more than $45 million to our clients’ pockets. 

An Overview of the California Lemon Law

The California Lemon Law has been a vital tool in protecting consumers from defective vehicles and promoting accountability in the automotive industry. It empowers individuals who find themselves dealing with recurring and significant defects in their vehicles, allowing them to seek a resolution and obtain compensation for their troubles. By providing a range of remedies, the law aims to restore consumer trust in the marketplace.

The Lemon Law in California covers a wide range of vehicles, including cars, trucks, motorcycles, SUVs, EVs, and recreational vehicles. It applies to both new and used vehicles, as long as they were sold with a manufacturer’s extended warranty, like a CPO warranty. The law is applicable if the defects occur during the warranty period. It is important to note that the Lemon Law also covers leased vehicles, ensuring that lessees have the same protections as buyers.

To qualify for protection under the Lemon Law, certain criteria must be met. Firstly, the defects must have been reported for an attempt to be repaired within the warranty period. Secondly, the defects must significantly impair the vehicle’s use, value, or safety. Examples of such defects can include mechanical issues, repeated breakdowns, electrical malfunctions, or safety system failures. Cosmetic defects or issues caused by accidents, misuse, or neglect are typically not covered under the Lemon Law.

When a consumer believes their vehicle qualifies as a “Lemon,” they must give the manufacturer a reasonable number of attempts to repair the defects. The number of repair attempts required may vary depending on the severity of the problem. A reasonable number can be as few as two attempts.  If the manufacturer fails to repair the defects after a reasonable number of attempts, the consumer may be entitled to relief under the Lemon Law.

The remedies available under the California Lemon Law include a repurchase or buyback, a replacement vehicle, or cash compensation. In the case of a repurchase, the manufacturer is required to refund the full purchase price of the vehicle to the consumer. This includes not only the base price but also any taxes, registration fees, and finance charges paid by the consumer. The repurchase option is often chosen when the defects are substantial and the consumer does not want to keep the vehicle.  The automaker is entitled to an offset for the good miles driven before the defect arose.

Alternatively, the consumer may opt for a replacement vehicle. In this scenario, the manufacturer must provide a vehicle of comparable value and specifications to the lemon vehicle. The replacement vehicle should be free of defects and satisfy the consumer’s original expectations. The replacement option is often preferred when the consumer is open to continuing their relationship with the manufacturer and desires a working vehicle.

Proving a Lemon Law Claim in Stockton, California

To pursue a Lemon Law claim, it is advisable for consumers to seek legal assistance from an experienced Stockton Lemon Law attorney who specializes in consumer protection laws. A knowledgeable attorney can guide consumers through the process, help gather the necessary documentation, and negotiate with the manufacturer on their behalf. It is important to note that the Lemon Law also provides for the recovery of attorney’s fees and costs if the consumer prevails in their claim. This provision ensures that consumers have access to legal representation without bearing the full financial burden.

Successfully bringing a Lemon Law claim requires consumers to meet certain elements, discussed in more detail below.

Is Your Vehicle Covered Under the CA Lemon Law?

The first step in bringing a Stockton Lemon Law claim is determining if your vehicle is covered. The CA Lemon Law covers all new vehicles that were purchased or leased in California. However, if you are a full-time active-duty service member living in California, your vehicle is covered even if you did not purchase or lease it in California. 

Vehicles that were purchased as “used” may also fall under the California Lemon Law if they are still under the manufacturer’s new vehicle warranty. 

The California Lemon Law applies to all types of vehicles, including:

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

However, vehicles that are not registered under the California Vehicle Code are not eligible. Similarly, any vehicles that were “abused” also are not covered under the CA Lemon Law. 

Does Your Vehicle Qualify as a Lemon?

Once you confirm your vehicle is covered under the California Lemon Law, the next step is to ensure that your vehicle meets the definition of a Lemon under state law. In California, the manufacturer may be required to buy back or replace your vehicle if, after a “reasonable” number of repair attempts, the vehicle remains defective. 

To establish that your vehicle is a Lemon, you must be able to prove that it suffers from a defect that “substantially impairs the use, value, or safety of the vehicle.” Courts use a “reasonable person in the position of the consumer with the car” test to assess the substantially impairing nature of a defect. Thus, minor defects that most people wouldn’t consider to affect the use, value, or safety of the vehicle won’t rise to the level of a serious defect. 

There has been a lot of confusion about what vehicle owners must do to show they’ve met the “reasonable number of attempts” language. It’s best to speak with an experienced Northern California lemon law attorney to discover what your next best steps are. 

Choosing a Remedy

If you are able to establish that your vehicle is a Lemon, the manufacturer must either buy the vehicle back from you or provide you with a replacement. As the consumer, you get to choose which remedy you prefer. 

In addition, to repurchase or replacement, successful Lemon Law claimants may also be entitled to recover attorney’s fees from the manufacturer. This is important for a few reasons. First, being able to recover attorney’s fees allows consumers to bring Lemon Law claims without worrying that any damages they recover would get eaten up by their legal costs. Second, there is no risk in hiring the best Stockton Lemon Law attorney available the manufacturer will cover your legal fees if you are successful. And, of course, if the manufacturer pays your legal fees, it means you get to keep more money. Third, requiring vehicle manufacturers to pay attorney’s fees allows Stockton Lemon Law attorneys to accept cases on a contingency basis, meaning attorneys will take your case at no cost upfront and will only recover attorney’s fees if they can win your case.

Frequently Asked Questions:

What is the Statute of Limitations for a California Lemon Law Claim?

Lemon Law claims are a type of breach-of-warranty claim, meaning that, under California law, they are subject to a four-year statute of limitations. The statute of limitations in a Lemon Law case starts from the date of the alleged breach, which is the date that you first learned your vehicle was a Lemon. Of course, because it can be difficult to determine the exact date a vehicle owner confirms their vehicle is a Lemon, it isn’t always straightforward to determine when the statute of limitations begins. For this reason, it is best to reach out to a Stockton Lemon Law lawyer as soon as you believe you may have a Lemon on your hands.

Can You File a Lemon Law Case for Cosmetic Defects?

Yes, you can bring a Stockton Lemon Law claim based only on cosmetic defects, provided the defect is serious enough. To successfully prove that a cosmetic defect rises to the level of a Lemon Law claim, it must affect the use, value or safety of your vehicle. Therefore, minor defects may not qualify. Anyone who owns a vehicle that has experienced repetitive cosmetic defects should reach out to a Lemon Law lawyer for assistance, as these claims tend to be more difficult to prove. 

Can I File a Lemon Law Claim Based on a Manufacturer’s Recall?

Maybe. While a recalled vehicle may be a Lemon, that isn’t always going to be the case. A product recall is a manufacturer’s official request for consumers to bring back their vehicle based on some problem with the vehicle. A manufacturer will then replace the problematic part or fix the issue at no cost to the consumer. Recalls vary in seriousness; however, most affect the safety of the vehicle. Product recalls are also expensive, meaning manufacturers prefer not to issue them.

A vehicle doesn’t need to be recalled to be considered a Lemon. And many recalled vehicles are not Lemons. This is because one of the main elements of a Lemon Law claim is that the vehicle defect couldn’t be cured despite a reasonable number of attempts. Thus, if a manufacturer issues a recall and fixes the issue in the first attempt, the vehicle wouldn’t be considered a Lemon. 

Contact a Stockton Lemon Law Attorney for Immediate Assistance

If you recently purchased a new or used vehicle and believe that you may have a Lemon on your hands, reach out to the dedicated Stockton Lemon Law attorneys at Wirtz Law APC. At Wirtz Law APC, our lawyers take pride in helping vehicle owners and lessees obtain the benefit of the bargain they thought they were getting when purchasing a new or used vehicle. We have a better-than-97 percent success rate among the Lemon Law cases we’ve handled, recovering more than $45 million on behalf of our clients. To learn more, and to schedule a free consultation with a Stockton 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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