Ukiah Lemon Law

Ukiah Lemon Law

Ukiah Lemon Law Attorneys

Ukiah, California, is the largest city in Mendocino County. With a population of just under 20,000, Ukiah is a small community – but its location on U.S. Route 101 makes it a popular travel stop for tourists. 

Ukiah’s close relationship with neighboring Lake County also means that many people visit Ukiah daily to work, play, shop, and run errands. Many of these visitors rely on their vehicles to travel in Ukiah, Mendocino County, and Lake County. 

When Ukiah families and small businesses buy a vehicle from a manufacturer or a dealership, they expect it to be reliable. Their expectations may collapse under worry and stress, however, if the vehicle has defects – especially if the manufacturer can’t seem to fix those defects after multiple attempts. 

If this situation sounds familiar, your vehicle may be a lemon. California lemon law provides legal remedies for those who receive lemon vehicles from a manufacturer or dealership. An experienced Ukiah lemon law attorney at Wirtz Law APC can help. 

Vehicle Registrations and Lemon Vehicle Rates in Mendocino County

In 2021, the California Department of Motor Vehicles processed nearly 120,500 vehicle registrations in Mendocino County and nearly 94,000 in Lake County, Ukiah’s neighbor. Many of these vehicles were first-time registrations for newly purchased or leased vehicles. Others were purchased used from a dealership that provided a certified pre-owned (CPO) warranty with the purchase.

Millions of new vehicles are registered in California yearly, but only a small percentage of those registrations eventually lead to a lemon lawsuit. According to the California Public Interest Research Group (CALPIRG), over seven million new vehicles were registered in California between 2018 and 2021. Yet only 34,397 of these vehicles eventually became the subject of a lemon lawsuit.

Some automakers have better reliability track records than others. For example, between 2018 and 2021, Toyota Motor Sales was named in one lemon lawsuit for every 2,029 new Toyota vehicles registered in California. General Motors, on the other hand, was named in one lemon lawsuit for every 78 new GM vehicles registered in the state between 2018 and 2021. In other words, Californians who bought a GM vehicle were twenty-six times more likely to file a lemon law claim than those who bought a Toyota. 

Most lemon law claims do not go to court. Rather, they are settled between the owner of the lemon vehicle, their lemon law attorney, and the automaker. However, should a claim proceed to a trial, the Wirtz APC team is prepared to represent you in court.

Exceptions to California’s Lemon Law

California’s lemon law doesn’t apply to all vehicle purchases made in the state. The lemon law likely will not apply to your situation in the following circumstances.

Your vehicle was never registered.

California lemon law only applies to vehicles registered with the state Department of Motor Vehicles. Some exceptions apply to vehicles owned by active-duty members of the military. If you have questions about your registration and how lemon law applies, an experienced Ukiah lemon lawyer can help. 

Your vehicle was purchased in a private sale.

California lemon law applies only to vehicles purchased or leased at retail – that is, from a dealership or a vehicle manufacturer. If you buy a used car from a friend, neighbor, or online ad, the California Lemon Law does not apply.

Your warranty has expired, or you only have an extended warranty. 

California’s lemon law only applies when a vehicle’s problems begin while the vehicle is still under an original manufacturer’s warranty or a certified pre-owned (CPO) warranty. If the warranty expired before the issues began, the lemon law wouldn’t apply. 

Some vehicle owners have an extended warranty, also known as an extended service contract. Since an extended warranty isn’t an original or CPO warranty, it will not qualify a vehicle for lemon law coverage. 

Your vehicle’s problems were caused by rough use beyond the norm. 

To qualify for coverage under California’s lemon laws, a vehicle’s issues must arise during normal or expected vehicle use. For instance, a problem that appears and persists even though all you do is drive your vehicle to work or school is likely covered by the lemon law.

California lemon law does not cover problems that arise because the vehicle was abused or subjected to unexpected conditions. Off-roading in a compact car, for instance, can easily cause damage to the vehicle – but it is also the type of activity that likely doesn’t fall under the lemon law because it’s not an “expected” use of a compact car. 

Your vehicle is a business vehicle, but you don’t meet the business exceptions. 

California lemon law allows some Ukiah small business owners to file a claim. To bring a lemon law claim for a business vehicle, a small business must show that:

  • The business owns five or fewer vehicles, including the lemon, and
  • The lemon vehicle has a total “curb weight” of under 10,000 pounds. 

The “curb weight” or gross vehicle weight (GVW) of a vehicle is the vehicle’s weight when empty. Most passenger vehicles, pickup trucks, and vans have a GVW of under 10,000 pounds. Some small work trucks may also fall into this category.

If your business or vehicle doesn’t meet these requirements, you may not bring a claim under California’s lemon law for a business vehicle. You may have other legal remedies available, however. 

Even if you suspect lemon law doesn’t apply to your claim, talk to an experienced lemon lawyer. An attorney can help you determine whether or not the law applies. If it doesn’t, an experienced lawyer can tell you if you have any other legal options. 

Securing the Compensation You Deserve for a Lemon Vehicle

California lemon law provides four categories of compensation for lemon owners.

Refund or Replacement

The most well-known form of compensation in lemon law claims is a replacement vehicle or a refund, also known as a “buyback.” California law requires replacement vehicles to be “substantially similar” to the original lemon vehicle. Refund amounts are calculated according to a formula in state law. 

Vehicle owners may choose whether they want a replacement vehicle or a refund. If you’re unsure which to choose, talk to an experienced Ukiah lemon lawyer for more information. 

Incidental and Consequential Damages

Incidental and consequential damages cover losses related to your lemon vehicle but not included in the cost of the vehicle itself. For instance, if you spent thousands on towing fees for your lemon vehicle, you can include these losses under incidental and consequential damages. Other common types of damages in this category include costs for alternative transportation, like bus fare or vehicle rentals.

Attorneys’ Fees

California’s lemon law also requires automakers to pay a vehicle owner’s attorney’s fees if the vehicle is a lemon. This rule means that vehicle owners don’t pay a lawyer out of pocket for the lawyer’s assistance. Many lemon law firms also work on contingency, which means they don’t charge their clients a fee if they lose the case. It is possible to receive experienced legal assistance in your lemon law claim while paying little or nothing out of pocket. 

Civil Penalties

If the auto manufacturer or distributor has willfully failed to repurchase or replace your vehicle that qualified under the lemon law, you may be entitled to additional damages up to two times the amount of your actual damages. Civil Penalties are intended to encourage the auto manufacturers to comply with the law in the future.

What Happens During A Lemon Law Case? – A Guide to California Lemon Law Infographic

What Happens During A Lemon Law Case - A Guide to California Lemon Law

Contact an Experienced Ukiah Lemon Law Attorney To Discuss Next Steps

Think you have a lemon on your hands? You don’t have to deal with it alone. The experienced California lemon law attorneys at Wirtz Law APC can help. We’re dedicated to fighting for each of our clients with skill and compassion. We’ll pursue the compensation you deserve so that you can focus on living your life. Contact us today to learn more.

If you are fed up, have had enough, and think your car is a lemon, call us at (858) 259-5009 for a free evaluation. If your vehicle is a lemon, we will take your case at no charge to you on a contingency fee basis. Wirtz Law APC provides one of the best Ukiah Lemon Law attorney services everywhere in California, including Northern California, Central California, Eastern California, and Southern California.

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