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How does the lemon law work? California’s lemon law is very detailed and complex with a lot of nuances that often require the help of a lemon law attorney. There is not enough space here to provide you with everything you need to know about the lemon law. But, what we have done for you is give you a summary of the highlights of California’s lemon law. Every case is different, so please feel free to submit a case review and we will take a look at your circumstances for free and let you know if we think you have a case to make use of the California lemon law.
WHAT IS THE LEMON LAW (GENERALLY SPEAKING)?
WHO AND WHAT DOES THE CALIFORNIA LEMON LAW APPLY TO?
It also applies to businesses so long as the business does not have more than 5 vehicles registered in California and the vehicle’s gross vehicle weight is under 10,000 pounds. (Cal. Civ. Code, section 1793.22(e)(2).)
It also applies to used vehicles so long as the used vehicle is still under the factory warranty. (Jensen v. BMV 35 Cal.App.4th 112.)
The vehicle must have been purchased or leased in California, unless you are active duty military. (Cal. Civ. Code, sections 1793.2 and 1791(t).) For the military exception to apply, you must have been active duty and either stationed in California or have been a resident of California (1) at the time you purchased the vehicle or (2) at the time you file your lawsuit. (Cal. Civ. Code, section 1795.8(b).)
WHAT IS THE IMPLIED WARRANTY AND HOW LONG DOES IT LAST?
WHAT IS AN EXPRESS WARRANTY?
WHAT IS THE MANUFACTURER REQUIRED TO DO IF THEY GAVE YOU A FACTORY WARRANTY?
-have facilities reasonably close by to repair your vehicle and the manufacturer must provide the repair facility with sufficient literature and parts so they can properly repair your vehicle during the warranty period. (Cal. Civ. Code, section 1793.2(a)(1) and (3).)
-ensure that the repair facilities start repairs on your vehicle within a reasonable time and that the repairs are complete within 30 days (unless you agree in writing to a longer period of time). (Cal. Civ. Code, section 1793.2(b).)
-honor the warranty — in other words, the repair facility must repair your vehicle at no cost to you (check out your warranty for exclusions/exceptions/terms/conditions).
WHAT IF THE DEALER CANNOT FIX YOUR CAR?
WHAT IS A SUBSTANTIAL IMPAIRMENT?
– oil leaks (Oregel v. Isuzu (2001) 90 Cal.App.4th 1094)
– stalling (Steward v. Daimler Chrysler (2002))
WHAT IS A REASONABLE NUMBER OF REPAIR VISITS?
— if, within the first 18 months or 18,000 miles, whichever occurs first, one or more of the following happens:
— the vehicle has a defect that poses a safety concern
— results in a condition that is likely to cause death or serious bodily injury
— and the dealer has had at least 2 chances to repair the defect
— the vehicle has a defect and the dealer has had at least 4 chances to repair the defect
— the vehicle has been in the shop for repairs for more than 30 cumulative days
To take advantage of the lemon law’s presumption that I’ve outlined above, you must participate in the manufacturer’s third party dispute resolution procedure (if they have one). (Cal. Civ. Code, section 1793.22(c).)
HOW MUCH MONEY CAN YOU GET?
For example, let’s say you bought a new vehicle with 24 miles on it. The cash price of the vehicle was $20,000. You brought the vehicle to the dealer the first time for a transmission problem at 6,500 miles. You continued to bring the vehicle in for transmission problems. The manufacturer would be able to deduct the following for the mileage offset:
6,500 miles at the first transmission complaint – 24 miles on the date of purchase / 120,000 x $20,000 cash price = $1,079.33
Sometimes, instead of offering you a refund, the manufacturer might offer to replace your vehicle with a new one that is substantially similar to your vehicle. So, for example, if you purchased a 2015 vehicle that is a lemon car, the manufacturer might replace it with a 2018 vehicle with the same make and model and features. There is no cost to you in this scenario unless, of course, you want to upgrade the vehicle in which case you would be responsible for paying for the upgrade only.