No one thinks they’re going to end up with a lemon – and very few are fully prepared for the long, cumbersome process. As a California lemon law lawyer, I’ll tell you first hand that manufacturers will do everything in their power to avoid giving consumers the full buyback. At the very least, they will drag out the process as long as they possibly can.
Remember, the big-name automakers have access to the most expensive legal defense teams money can buy. If you’re faced with a lemon, you can’t face them alone; you need a seasoned lemon law attorney who knows all the tactics to earning the justice you deserve.
However, getting the maximum lemon law buyback value is a joint effort between you and your attorney. In this post, I want to layout four ways you can speed up the California lemon law buyback process.
1. Don’t Wait to Get Repairs
This is a big one.
As soon as you notice your vehicle is showing signs of a manufacturer defect, get in touch with the manufacturer immediately about repairs.
Under California lemon law, the defect must occur while the vehicle is under warranty and cannot be a result of driver abuse.
So, in addition to hastening your path to a buyback, there are a couple key reasons to get your defective vehicle to the shop ASAP:
- The clock is ticking
The longer you wait to notify the manufacturer of the defect, the less time there is left on the warranty. Say your warranty is good for 3 years or before 36,000 miles accrue on the odometer. If the engine starts making weird sounds before these limits – and you wait around until after the limits to notify the manufacturer – your lemon case may be invalid.
- You open your situation up to “driver abuse”
The longer you wait to notify the manufacturer of the defect, the more time there is to potentially do something that can be considered “driver abuse”.
Let’s say there is a problem with the transmission. You’ve been putting off repairs and accidentally rear ended someone (or get an at-fault accident), you can bet the manufacturer will use that to try and discredit the defect – even if the transmission was defective fritz long before.
The biggest piece of advice I can give you is to call the manufacturer or dealership (wherever you purchased the vehicle) immediately after you notice something isn’t right. They will direct you to a manufacturer-certified repair facility.
DO NOT take your defective vehicle to your preferred mechanic. Any work done on the vehicle by a non-manufacturer-certified repair shop will more than likely ruin your chances of having a successful lemon law claim..
2. Conduct General Research on CA Lemon Law Before Your Consultation
Doing this is something your California lemon law lawyer will really appreciate. If you’re reading this post, you’re already doing it!
Keep in mind, your lawyer will do everything possible to get you the maximum amount for your lemon law buyback. The more information you can provide to your attorney, the better chance you have of getting that maximum compensation.
You’ve probably never experienced a lemon before. In fact, you may not have even known lemon law existed until now. By taking time to build up a baseline knowledge of the law and how your situation factors in, you are doing wonders to help your case.
Here are the main things you should know before you set up a consultation:
- Is your vehicle still under warranty?
The warranty is the most important bit of information in a lemon law buyback. Now, a giant misconception about California lemon law is the defect MUST be detected within the first 18 months after the purchase date or before 18,000 miles accrue on the odometer.
Some of the content you read online might point you to believe this, but it’s not true.
Your vehicle can be deemed a lemon as long as it’s under warranty. Generally, car warranties are good for 3 years or before 36,000 or 5 years or 60,000 miles accrue on the odometer – but this can vary.
If the vehicle is not under warranty, you may not have a lemon case.
- Have you taken the car to the manufacturer/dealership for repairs?
We get calls all the time from consumers who recently bought a car and are experiencing issues. More often than not, they haven’t taken the vehicle in for repairs yet. Usually in California, a vehicle cannot be deemed a lemon unless it has had at least two repair attempts by a manufacturer-certified facility.
Now, we are more than happy to speak with you at any point in the process and steer you in the right direction. But if this is the case, we’ll instruct you to get in contact with the manufacturer or dealership to begin the repair process.
- Is the defect “substantial”?
The term “substantial defect” can certainly be open to interpretation.
Under California lemon law, a substantial defect must impair the vehicle’s use, safety, or value.
Commonly, these defects would be related to the vehicle’s critical components, including (but not limited to):
- Electric system
- Fluid leaks
- Air bags
- Fuel lines
However, a good lawyer will investigate your facts to determine whether other problems covered under a bumper-to-bumper warranty can check one of the boxes that impairs the use, safety, or value – even if it’s a problem with something like the factory entertainment panel.
Just be sure you’re completely upfront about the defect and can describe it in detail during your consultation.
3. Gather/Organize Your Paperwork
Paperwork is the lifeblood of your claim. The more information you have, the higher lemon law buyback value you stand to gain. If your vehicle is deemed a lemon, you want the manufacturer to cover every single penny related to the car.
This includes the vehicle itself, monthly payments made, the repairs, car rentals, car registration fees, towing fees, Uber/Lyft rides, hotel stays, meals, and everything else that could possibly be tied to your lemon.
Here is a rundown of all the paperwork you should have for your consultation.
- Repair invoices (closed and signed by repair facility) including:
- The reason the vehicle was brought in
- How issues were attempted to be repaired
- Dates/times of repairs
- Outcome of repairs
- Milage of the vehicle
- Receipts for all incidental costs
- Your vehicle’s history
- Timeline of repairs
When you call in for your consultation, try to organize all your paperwork in chronological order. This will make things much easier for your attorney.
4. Choose the Right Lemon Law Lawyer
No matter how much prep you do or how much documentation you have, at the end of the day, the lemon law attorney you choose plays the biggest role in how your case pans out.
Unfortunately, not all attorneys are created equal. To get the maximum lemon law buyback value, you need to know what to look for in a lawyer. Your consultation is about understanding how strong your case is – but it’s also about you learning how well the lawyer can manage your case.
The good news is there are a few telltale signs to spot. Here are some key questions to ask the attorney in the consultation:
- What are your top priorities in this case?
For starters, you need to understand their values as a lemon law attorney. The lawyer’s answer should be along the lines of seeking the absolute highest compensation from the manufacturer, getting consumers the justice they deserve, and earning speedy buybacks.
- Have you worked with this manufacturer before?
This is a big one. Every manufacturer has their own set of hurdles to getting the best lemon law buyback value. Ideally, your attorney has fought your car’s manufacturer in court before – and will elaborate on some of the biggest challenges they’ve faced with them.
- What motivates you to practice lemon law?
The best lemon law lawyers have one thing in common: a passion for standing up to giant corporations and getting justice for everyday people. In essence, lemon law cases are David versus Goliath – and your attorney should revel in the idea of playing David.
The right California lemon law lawyer makes all the difference in earning the best buyback value. You’re allowed to be picky when choosing yours.
Ultimately, your attorney can only do so much to make everything run smoother. While they will do the heavy lifting in earning justice, you play a key role in speeding up the lemon law buyback process.
As a California lemon law lawyer, I’ve managed cases of all shapes and sizes with different manufacturers. If you have any questions about your buyback or claim, please don’t hesitate to reach out to Cline APC.