Is my car a lemon?

Determining whether you were sold a lemon can be frustrating and difficult. Who do you ask for help? The dealership? The manufacturer? The manufacturer is not in the business of buying back your car. The dealership is an extension of the manufacturer. The prospect of having a lemon may seem overwhelming. Rest assured, it is possible to evaluate your case as lawyers do. But, first you need to know a little bit about how the California lemon law works.

Although the California lemon law seems nuanced, there are two basic elements to every claim. Assuming your purchased/leased a car covered by a new car warranty, ask yourself two questions—(1) Does your vehicle have a defect? (2) Have you given the manufacturer a reasonable opportunity to repair your vehicle?

Element number one; what is a defect?

Under the lemon law, your defect (“problem”) must substantially impair your use, value or safety.  This is not as daunting as it sounds. Does your problem affect your use of the car, if not, move to the next factor. Does the problem affect the value of your car? If not, does it affect your safety. Typical car problems will affect at least one of the three; use, value, or safety. Remember, you only have to satisfy one factor (use, value, safety) for your problem to qualify as a defect. If you are unsure whether your problem qualifies as a defect, give us a call and we can help you through the analysis.

Element number 2; have you given the manufacturer a reasonable opportunity to repair your vehicle?

Each time your car goes to the dealership counts as a repair opportunity, even if they choose to do no actual repair work. In a typical situation, three or four visits for the same problem or 30 or more cumulative days in the repair facility is seen as an unreasonable amount of time.

How to determine whether your car is a lemon.

To quickly and easily analyze your case, no different than a California lemon law lawyer, follow these 5 steps:

  1. Gather all of your repair orders;
  2. Organize your repair orders in chronological order;
  3. Flip through each repair order summarizing your individual repair order complaints;
  4. Group your common concerns by repair visit;
  5. Count the number of times your common concerns appear on the repair orders, or the total days in the repair facility.

If you identify any problems that repeat three or more times, your car may qualify for a lemon law buy-back. You may also qualify, if your car spent 30 or more cumulative total days in the repair facility.

The above mentioned steps can provide you with a good idea of whether your car qualifies under the California lemon law, but it is not a substitute for a case evaluation by an experienced lemon law attorney. If you think you may have a lemon, or you are just curious because your car has recently been in the shop, please contact our lemon law lawyers. There are exceptions to every rule, even those quoted above. And, we have seen just about every fact pattern imaginable. Therefore, our experienced lawyers may think your car is a good lemon law buy-back candidate even though you do not. Our case evaluations are free of charge and we offer free written buy-back evaluations with absolutely no commitment.

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