California’s Lemon Law protects you when an auto manufacturer or dealer sells you a defective vehicle – a “lemon” – but what if the vehicle is damaged after it leaves the manufacturer but before it is delivered to you? You’ll need legal guidance from a California Lemon Law attorney.
The Song-Beverly Consumer Warranty Act of 1970, often referred to as the Lemon Law, spells out precisely which vehicles are to be considered lemons, and it gives consumers who have purchased a lemon the right to a buyback or a replacement vehicle from the manufacturer.
Some vehicle buyers may not know about their Lemon Law rights. Basically, if you buy or lease a vehicle with a warranty, and if the same problem can’t be fixed after several efforts, you have the legal right to demand the manufacturer to buy the vehicle back from you or to replace it.
How is a “Lemon” Defined by the Lemon Law?
What vehicles are considered lemons under the Lemon Law? A vehicle is a lemon if, during the dealer’s or manufacturer’s warranty period, you take your vehicle to the dealer several times for the same problem and the dealer cannot seem to fix the problem, and the problem substantially impairs the use, value or safety of the vehicle.
What is a “Reasonable” Number of Repair Attempts?
The law doesn’t indicate how many repair efforts “must” be made before a consumer may bring a Lemon Law claim. California’s appellate courts have held that a “reasonable number” is at least two repair attempts, although your claim is stronger if three or four attempts have been made.
The California Lemon Law applies only to vehicles that have been “sold or leased” in the State of California. However, if you bought a vehicle in a different state, and you took delivery of the vehicle here in California, you may still have legal protection under the Lemon Law.
Where a vehicle was leased or purchased is usually easy to determine. If you purchase a vehicle from a dealership and drive it home, there’s no question, but if you order a vehicle from an out-of-state dealer and have it delivered to you in California, the matter can get legally complicated.
What Does “Sold in California” Actually Mean?
This state’s appellate courts have held that a vehicle is “sold in California” if the vehicle’s title passes from the seller to the buyer in California. Under the state’s Commercial Code, the title passes only at the physical location where the seller delivers the vehicle to the buyer.
If a sales contract requires a vehicle’s delivery to a buyer, but it does not specify a location for the delivery, then the sale is considered to take place at the location where the seller ships the vehicle. But if a contract specifies a delivery location, that location is where the sale takes place.
A consumer doesn’t have to be a California resident to take advantage of the provisions in the California Lemon Law. But, the consumer must take delivery of the vehicle in California and the efforts to fix a vehicle ought to happen in California (though there are some exceptions).
Your Receipts Become Evidence if You Bring a Lemon Law Claim
Regardless of where you purchase or lease your vehicle, you will need to save, make copies, and store securely all of your sales and repair receipts and all other related documents.
If you want to bring a claim against an auto dealer or a vehicle manufacturer, your California Lemon Law lawyer will need to review your repair receipts and other documents thoroughly, because that is the paperwork that will provide the legal basis for your Lemon Law claim.
Especially if you ordered your vehicle from an auto dealership that is located in another state, you will need to produce all of the paperwork that’s pertinent to the order, the sale, and the delivery of the vehicle to California.
How Should You Choose a Lemon Law Attorney?
Then, you will need to choose the right Lemon Law attorney to handle your claim. Do not choose a lawyer who charges you a fee, because the California Lemon Law makes the vehicle’s manufacturer – and not you – responsible to pay your attorney if your claim is successful.
California Lemon Law attorney Sotera L. Anderson knows the Lemon Law from both sides. She once represented vehicle manufacturers, but now she’s been fighting effectively for California consumers with Lemon Law claims.
Attorney Sotera L. Anderson knows what it takes for your Lemon Law claim to prevail, and she is prepared to take your Lemon Law claim to court and fight there for justice on your behalf.
What Will a Lemon Law Attorney Do on Your Behalf?
Don’t try negotiating with your vehicle’s manufacturer on your own. The right Lemon Law attorney will know exactly how the law applies in your own situation and will also know how to negotiate a more generous settlement than you could achieve by yourself.
Your lawyer will compel the vehicle’s manufacturer to meet its full legal obligation to you. In the State of California, if your vehicle is a lemon, you have the right to a buyback or a replacement vehicle, and the law in this state will be on your side.