How to Get the Most from Your Manufacturer When Life Gives You a Lemon

Realizing that you’re stuck with a lemon vehicle can be incredibly frustrating and stressful; even more so when you think about all of your legal rights that will inevitably follow. That being said, knowing your rights and how to proceed so things turn out in your favor can make all the difference in seeking lemon law compensation!

Now, it’s important to note that the auto industry has access to some of the most expensive legal defenses in the country. Manufacturers will hire teams of experts to do everything in their power to prevent you from getting the lemon law settlement you deserve. But, the most expensive doesn’t necessarily mean the best. With a good Plaintiffs’ lawyer, you can win! 

Read on to learn how you can get the maximum lemon law compensation from your vehicle manufacturer:

Tips To Get Maximum Coverage From Vehicle Manufacturers

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1. Start off on the Right Foot

Once you’re certain that your vehicle is a lemon, ensure you’ve got all the records for the vehicle repair attempts in place. This includes bills, part replacement receipts, the names of people who worked on the vehicle, as well as the number of days the vehicle was in the shop each time. Also, make note of related expenses such as the towing costs or commuting fees incurred – as these are also applicable to your lemon law settlement. 

It’s also unnecessary to contact the dealership or manufacturer to let them know you’ve been handed a lemon. They have an affirmative duty to give you a buyback for the lemon or a replacement. If they do not, you should pursue a lemon law claim against your vehicle manufacturer right away while you are still under warranty. Always consult a lemon law attorney first! Otherwise, you may not get compensation for your lemon car.

2. Be Wary of Arbitration

When seeking a lemon law settlement, your vehicle manufacturer might request you to take the arbitration route. Arbitration hearings are entirely different from court hearings, there is no jury, and the decision is made by only one decision maker – the arbitrator. You are also forced to give up all rights and powers afforded to you by your Constitutional right, our court system. In arbitration, you will have only one person making a final ruling instead of twelve peers taken from your local community. There is a reason the manufacturer wants you to give up your rights and choose arbitration, so they have a better chance of winning.

Note that the vehicle manufacturer cannot compel you to opt for manufacturer-sponsored arbitration. However, if you choose to use it, know that the arbitrator or panel might not apply lemon law standards to your case. In other words, you might be issued a partial refund instead of getting full lemon law compensation or a replacement – even if your vehicle is found to be a lemon.

Moreover, you don’t have to accept the decision if you lose during the arbitration. The decision is only enforceable at the option of you, the consumer. That being said, should you choose to reject the arbitrator’s decision, the manufacturer can use it against you. For instance, they might use the decision as evidence during court proceedings to strengthen their case and lessen the chances of your getting compensation for your lemon car.

Remember that arbitration is not always favorable to the consumer and is almost always less favorable than your constitutional right to a decision by a jury of your peers. In any case, you’ll be representing yourself, while your vehicle manufacturer will likely have an expert to represent themselves. Since you’ll have a limited or no right to appeal if the decision doesn’t go in your favor, it’s advisable to tread with caution.

3. Pursue a Lemon Law Claim

If you think your car is a lemon, it is best to pursue a claim for full lemon law compensation (buyback). The best way to go about this is to hire an experienced lemon law attorney to represent your case.

Hiring an attorney will certainly help you get the maximum lemon law settlement. Interpreting the law can be challenging in itself, but fighting for your rights on your own will mean being pitted against very seasoned lawyers, which can drastically thin your chances of getting justice. Keep in mind, it’s a common tactic for manufacturers to delay the process. With a lemon attorney, you’ll not only be able to get the maximum value for your lemon law settlement; your case will be resolved quicker, too.

To make matters better, the lemon law requires the manufacturer to pay your lawyer’s costs associated with commencing and prosecuting your lemon case!

4. Know Manufacturer Obligations

Knowing vehicle manufacturer obligations and understanding your rights is important. That way, you can present your case better and gain maximum compensation for your lemon car. Under California lemon law, your vehicle manufacturer can satisfy obligations by offering you a replacement or a buyback.

A. Replacement

If both you and the manufacturer agree to this, the manufacturer must replace your vehicle with an identical one. The manufacturer is also obligated to pay collateral charges like registration fees and sales tax, as well as offer a full warranty for the new vehicle.


B. Buyback

Under lemon law, your vehicle manufacturer is obligated to pay you an average lemon law settlement less the ‘mileage offset.’ This will include the amount that you paid for the vehicle, or that is still payable. So, if you applied for a loan, your vehicle manufacturer would be responsible for the down payment, all monthly payments you made toward the loan, and all pending loan installments. Note that the vehicle manufacturer may not be obligated to pay late charges and other penalties you might have incurred on the loan. So remember, stay current on all loan payments.

The average lemon law settlement also includes transportation charges that you had to bear when you purchased the vehicle – and any extra amount that you paid for manufacturer-installed items. The vehicle manufacturer may not be obligated to pay for non-manufacturer items or accessories that you installed. Registration fees, sales tax, and other official fees are all to be paid by the vehicle manufacturer.


C. Incidental Damages

Incidental damages include vehicle repairs charges and any expenses you incurred as a direct cause of the vehicle’s defects. You can seek compensation for your lemon car’s towing charges, cab fares, and rental vehicle charges. Also, any damages for loss of wages on account of having to take your car to and from the workshop may be recoverable.

In Need of a California Lemon Law Attorney?

If your car is a lemon, it is advisable to seek legal help from an experienced California lemon law attorney. A good lawyer will not only represent you in court and fight for an above-average lemon law settlement. They’ll also understand how best to interpret the laws in favor of their client.

At Cline APC, our Lemon Law attorneys have decades of experience in handling lemon law cases. Our legal team can make sure that you get the best outcome and maximum lemon law settlement for your case. We understand that these cases can be emotionally draining, and we’ll provide you with the support and guidance you need throughout the process. If you think you might have a lemon car, don’t hesitate to contact us today for a free case evaluation. We’ll review your situation in depth and determine if California Lemon Law applies to your case.

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