California’s Song-Beverly Consumer Warranty Act – the California Lemon Law – gives consumers legal protection when an auto company makes and sells a defective vehicle, but to take advantage of that protection, you’ll need an experienced California lemon law attorney.

The Lemon Law may apply to used vehicles as well as to new vehicles. It may apply to both leased vehicles and to purchased vehicles. It may apply to automobiles, trucks, motorcycles, and SUVs.

What is Required to Pursue a Claim Under the Lemon Law? 

One item, however, must be in place before you can file any claim under the state’s Lemon Law. You must have repeat repairs that are covered under the dealer’s or manufacturer’s a warranty. 

However, in some cases, California’s Lemon Law can actually extend the amount of time a warranty remains in effect. This can get very complicated so please don’t try to run these calculations on your own because you could end up missing the deadline to file your claim. 

How does the extension work? When do you need to act if you’ve purchased a “lemon” from a California auto dealership? And how will a lemon law attorney be able to help?

Read on to have those questions answered, and you’ll learn more about the Lemon Law, vehicle warranties, and your rights as a consumer here in the state of California. You’ll also learn what steps to take if a vehicle you’ve purchased is a lemon.

What is the “Real” Warranty Period – When a Vehicle is a Lemon?

Every new vehicle is sold with a manufacturer’s warranty. The manufacturer gives you several kinds of warranties – like a basic warranty, a powertrain warranty, and a restraint warranty. 

Those warranties last for a certain number of months or miles, whichever occurs first. Some consumers find when they buy a vehicle that’s a lemon, efforts to repair the vehicle can take a great deal of time and may even extend beyond the warranty period. But under the Lemon Law, the warranty period is “tolled” (that is, paused) when a vehicle is at a dealership for repairs. 

Beginning on the date when you leave a defective vehicle with the manufacturer’s repair facility for repairs, the warranty period pauses and does not start again until the repairs are complete. If the consumer is the party who is causing the delay, the original warranty period will not be told and instead will remain in effect. 

In fact, under the California Lemon Law, the warranty period is technically extended until the problem with the vehicle has been repaired – if it can be repaired.

What Do You Need to Extend the Warranty? 

If the dealership’s effort to repair the vehicle has failed, the vehicle’s owner must inform the manufacturer of that failure within sixty days after the repair effort was “completed.” 

So, it is important to bring the vehicle back to the dealer.

Here’s the bottom line: If a vehicle’s defects first emerged in the original warranty period, and if the dealership had a chance to fix the defects before that warranty expired, the warranty may be extended by the Lemon Law, and you may have the right to a buyback or a replacement vehicle.

How Do “Lemon Law” Attorneys Help California’s Consumers? 

California requires vehicle manufacturers and dealers to inform vehicle purchasers about their Lemon Law rights, but they do so “buried” in a booklet with all the other materials given at the time of purchase. 

Many consumers nevertheless remain unfamiliar with their rights under the law. If you own a vehicle that is a lemon – with repairs under warranty – you need an attorney’s help.

Please don’t try to calculate the warranty on your own because you may find that you miscalculated it and the deadline to file your claim may have passed.

Every Lemon Law case is unique. A good California consumer lawyer will explain your rights under the Lemon Law, will explain how the law applies in your personal circumstances and will negotiate a Lemon Law claim on your behalf. 

Most California Lemon Law claims are settled in less than ninety days.

What About “Extended” Warranties? 

California consumers should understand clearly that the Lemon Law does not apply to the repairs covered by an “extended” warranty. Extended warranties are basically service contracts for repairs on a vehicle after the expiration of a manufacturer’s original vehicle warranty.

Extended warranties may look and read just like original manufacturers’ warranties, but the law in this state makes a clear distinction. California’s Lemon Law applies only to repairs that are still covered by the original manufacturer’s warranty.

Do You Really Need an Attorney’s Help With a Lemon Law Claim?

If you try to negotiate personally and directly with a vehicle’s manufacturer for a buyback or a replacement vehicle, here’s what’s likely to happen. A “customer service representative” will assure you that “your claims are under investigation and the situation is under review.”

In other words, you may be led to believe that the vehicle’s manufacturer is earnestly trying to resolve your problem when, in fact, nothing is being done. In these circumstances, the vehicle’s manufacturer is hoping that, eventually, you’ll simply give up and go away. That often happens.

Or what happens if the manufacturer will offer something very nominal as hush money? If you take that money, you can’t get a full refund later.

Even if the vehicle’s manufacturer eventually offers you a buyback or a replacement vehicle, without an experienced consumer lawyer’s help, you are unlikely to receive the full value of your claim. Lemon Law Attorney Sotera Anderson often gets calls from consumers who tried to negotiate on their own and realizes that the manufacturer offered the consumer thousands less than what the lemon law calls for – don’t be one of those consumers. Let her handle it from the beginning.

When Should You Speak to a Lemon Law Attorney?

If you are a California consumer and you’ve purchased a vehicle that appears to be a lemon, seek a good attorney’s advice first. An experienced California lemon law attorney is a trained negotiator who routinely handles these claims and knows what it takes to prevail on your behalf. 

The law in California is on your side, and a good attorney’s help is your right. 

If the vehicle you’ve purchased is a lemon, and if you meet the other requirements of the Lemon Law, you have the right to a buyback or a replacement vehicle, but you must take the first step – and call a good lemon law attorney promptly. Call Sotera. She’ll walk you through the lemon law process.