Automakers in California have no intention of compensating consumers for mistakes in their manufacturing process. In addition to the refund costing them a pretty penny, a court ruling that they produced and sold a defective vehicle hurts their global image. As California lemon law lawyers, we’ve had many consumers come to us with bad information they got from the manufacturer.
Generally speaking, lemons are pretty rare – and most affected consumers are experiencing the lemon law process for the very first time. Manufacturers use this to their advantage in many ways. The big brands will do just about everything to get out of providing a refund, including flat out lying.
Unfortunately, this oftentimes results in the consumer dropping their valid lemon law claim and walking away. This is exactly what the manufacturer wants.
In this post, I want to go over four common lies manufacturers present to consumers, as well as how to protect yourself. Let’s discuss.
You Have To Sign A Release Form
This is one of the most common lies we see as California lemon law lawyers. Under the state’s law, consumers are entitled to benefits – which include a buyback or replacement of the defective vehicle. There is no law whatsoever that the consumer has to sign any sort of release form or settlement agreement.
If you win your lemon law case, your buyback must include:
- Full refund for the price of the vehicle minus a mileage offset.
- The down payment made on the vehicle.
- Reimbursement for all payments made on the loan.
- Payoff of the remaining amount owed on the vehicle.
- Reimbursement for all official costs related to the vehicle – taxes, registration, etc.
- Manufacturer coverage of all legal fees and attorney costs.
- Reimbursement for all incidental costs related to the lemon – towing costs, cab fares, lost wages, hotel stays, etc.
Oftentimes, the release forms manufacturers insist on are packed with legal jargon that leave consumers with a low-ball settlement. Don’t fall for it. If the manufacturer says you need to sign a release form, they are misrepresenting the state’s lemon law.
If you can prove they violated their legal obligations, you may be eligible for a civil lawsuit – which could drastically increase the payout from the manufacturer.
You Cannot Dispute The Mileage Offset
The mileage offset refers to the deduction for how much the vehicle was used before the defect was reported. In California, this is calculated by:
- Multiplying the original purchase price of the vehicle by the mileage at the time of the first repair attempts.
- This number is then divided by 120,000, which legislature in California has deemed to be the average lifespan of a vehicle.
Let’s say you purchased a vehicle for $20,000.
When you took the vehicle into the manufacturer-certified repair facility, it had 5,000 miles on it.
The formula to get the mileage offset would look like this:
(20,000 x 5,000) / 120,000 = $833.33
When your vehicle is ruled a lemon, the mileage offset is the main deduction the manufacturer can knock off the buyback amount. If it looks like the mileage offset is super aggressive – and the manufacturer tells you that you cannot dispute the formula they used to get to this number, they are lying.
Without the help of specialized California lemon law lawyers, the manufacturer can easily alter this number for their own interests.
Arbitration is Your Best Option
This is one of the common and most detrimental lies manufacturers tell consumers. While it’s not technically a breach of the law to tell you this, arbitration does not normally favor the consumer.
Commonly, the manufacturer will say that arbitration is a faster, cheaper alternative to taking the claim before the court system. In reality, it’s only faster and cheaper for them, not you. If you choose to go to arbitration, the arbitrators are usually paid for by the manufacturer. This means they may not be completely unbiased in their decision.
More often than not, arbitrators end up ruling in favor of the manufacturer – no matter how strong the consumer’s lemon law claim might be.
Imagine playing a game of basketball where all the referees are paid for by the other team. Chances are, they won’t call a fair game. The same logic applies in manufacturer-sponsored arbitration.
If you have a lemon on your hands, you ALWAYS want to use the court system with a skilled lemon law attorney on your side. Otherwise, your chances of getting a full buyback go drastically down.
Some manufacturers – like Tesla and BMW – work forced arbitration clauses into their purchase orders. The good news is you can opt-out of this. Be sure to look over the fine print for this clause whenever you purchase a new vehicle.
Lemon Law Attorneys Just Want Your Money
Automakers – and their legal teams – have no problem producing content that deters consumers from seeking counsel from a lemon law attorney. Lemon law attorneys are their arch enemies. If they can deter an affected consumer from hiring one, their chances of avoiding a buyback go way up.
You might see content on the web saying that lemon law lawyers will purposely drag out the buyback process to rack up legal costs – and have no interest in whether or not you win. This is pure fiction.
Good California lemon law attorneys do not ever ask clients to pay out of pocket for their services. The manufacturer is required to cover all court costs and attorney fees when the consumer wins the case. In other words, the lawyer only gets paid if they win. A trustworthy attorney will not take your case unless they believe they can win it.
That said, it’s in the best interest of the lemon law attorney to navigate the buyback process as quickly as possible.
The most important thing to keep in mind in a lemon law case is that your attorney is the only one fighting for you. If the manufacturer tries to tell you anything that might deter you from seeking professional legal counsel, don’t listen.
The California lemon law buyback process can be treacherous. You need a skilled lemon law attorney on your side to help you navigate the path to seeking justice. Keep in mind, the manufacturer has one goal in this process: avoid paying you what you deserve.
While they may seem friendly and compassionate, they are NOT on your side. Only the attorney you hire is truly in your corner. As soon as you believe your vehicle meets the qualifications of California lemon law, stop talking to the manufacturer – get a skilled lemon law lawyer to take it from there.
If you have any questions, concerns, or need more information about lemon law, don’t hesitate to reach out to our California lemon law lawyers at Cline APC. We’re happy to assist you however we can.