Buying a new car can be as daunting as it is exciting.
You want to ensure that the car meets your expectations and runs without any glitches. This is mainly because the manufacturer is responsible to ensure the highest quality standards before selling any new or used vehicle.
And yet, there are times when you do end up with a lemon car, which can pose a threat to your safety.
To protect buyers against these unfortunate (and not uncommon) lemon purchases, the state, and federal governments have designated several laws.
For instance, if you’re a resident of California, a lemon refers to a vehicle which has or had “a defect that impairs the use, value, or safety and which the manufacturer was unable to repair after a reasonable number of repair opportunities.”
In the event that you end up with a lemon, the first thing you need to do is to consult an attorney. Hiring a lemon law California lawyer will help you understand the state’s law and make an informed decision.
However, there are a few factors to take into consideration beforehand. Let’s discuss.
1. Know the Options
When your vehicle is a lemon, you have two primary options according to the law in California.
Option 1: Give the car back to the manufacturer for a refund
Option 2: Get a replacement for the vehicle.
For the former option, you can request:
- A refund of the down payment
- Reimbursement of monthly payments
- Reimbursement of sales tax
- Reimbursement of registration fees and license fees
- Reimbursement of rental car expenses
- Reimbursement of towing expenses
- Reimbursement of other incidental expenses
Knowing which of the above action can aptly help your cause, it is best to seek legal counsel from your attorney. This takes us to the next point.
2. Seek Legal Advice
Hiring a lemon law lawyer/attorney should not be a painstaking process. When it comes to lemon law cases in California, making this decision is a breeze because the law in the state makes it mandatory for auto manufacturers to bear all the legal fees and the expenses of the buyer’s attorney when the lemon law claim is a success.
Hence, when you’re sure that you have ended up with a lemon and can prove it, the California lemon law requires the manufacturer to pay for your incurred attorneys’ fees, costs and expenses.
This is a great incentive to seek legal counsel. If your car is a surely lemon, you should proceed without a second thought. There are lawyers in California who are adept at handling lemon law claims. You can easily gain a lot, yet lose nothing by hiring them!
If nothing else, schedule a free consultation with the lawyer and see how it goes.
3. Ask All The Possible Questions
During the consultation phase, ask your attorney everything related to your lemon vehicle. This includes questions such as:
- Does my vehicle qualify as a lemon according to the California state lemon law?
- What are the substantial differences between lemon law and auto fraud?
- What is a “reasonable” number of repair attempts by the manufacturer?
- What are the documents I’ll need to process the claim?
- What will be the amount of the claim settlement?
- If I want a refund or a replacement, how do I notify the manufacturer?
- By what time will I be eligible to receive the money from the settlement of the lemon law claim?
4. Get the Vehicle Repaired
This is a rule of the thumb when it comes to California lemon law. You must give the manufacturer the opportunity to repair the vehicle. After a reasonable number of repairs attempted, it can be declared a lemon and the manufacturer must promptly replace the vehicle or refund the purchase price. Hence, you have to prove that the manufacturer was given a reasonable opportunity to repair the vehicle.
Bonus tip: If you have to take your vehicle for repairs at this stage, be sure to keep ALL the related receipts with you. This will be handy to prove your claim.
5. Don’t Wait Too Long
The longer you delay, the weaker your claim may become. Hence, don’t delay the process and start filing the claim at the earliest. This will help you get the compensation sooner rather than later.
These are the standard measures that a lemon vehicle owner may take. There are some statutory deductions, such as mileage, which can apply to the claim. It’s always nice to brush up on the basics of lemon law statutes before moving ahead to avoid any agony down the road! Keep up on our content to become more familiar with the lemon law in California.