DIY Lemon Law vs. Hiring an Attorney: Pros and Cons for Consumers

You purchased a vehicle with manufacturer defects – you’re rightfully angry.

We expect vehicles from world-renowned brands to work seamlessly when we drive them off of the lot.

But that’s not always the case.

The good news is there are laws in place to protect you from this debacle. The Magnuson-Moss Consumer Warranty Act was enacted in 1975 to hold manufacturers accountable for selling products with factory defects.

If the vehicle meets the state’s qualifications, they may file a claim with the manufacturer.

Consumers can either attempt to do this on their own or hire a lemon law attorney to do it for them.

As a California lemon law lawyer, I mostly work with consumers who have never dealt with the lemon law process before. To be honest, most don’t even know what lemon law is until they realize their car is defective.

Everyone is worried about costs in this situation – and wonders if it’s worth hiring a lemon law attorney or not.

In this post, I want to guide your decision and explain the reality of the situation. Let’s dive in.

What Are the CA Lemon Laws?

The Moss-Magnuson Consumer Warranty Act establishes lemon law across the entire country.

Each state has its own set of rules about what constitutes a “lemon” vehicle.

CA lemon laws are known as the Song-Beverly Consumer Warranty Act. To be ruled a lemon vehicle, California lemon law requires:

  • The vehicle was under a dealership’s or manufacturer’s warranty when the defect was first reported to the manufacturer; and
  • The defect is substantial – impairs the vehicle’s safety, usability, or value; and
  • The defect was not caused by driver error, neglect, or abuse; and
  • The manufacturer’s certified repair facility has been given a reasonable number of repair attempts to fix the defect – usually at least two; or
  • The vehicle has been out of service for repairs for 30 or more cumulative days.

If your defective vehicle checks these boxes above, you may be eligible to file a claim under CA lemon laws.

But now, you’re faced with a decision: Should I hire a lemon law attorney or manage the process myself?

You 100% should hire an attorney to protect your lemon law rights – and we’re not being biased.

Consumers who try to represent themselves in a lemon law case almost always end up with a lowball settlement, if anything at all.

But let’s explore both sides.

Pros of a DIY Lemon Law Claim

There really aren’t many pros in trying to manage a lemon law claim on your own. There may be perceived advantages, but these are more just misconceptions.

For one, you may be thinking you’ll save money on attorney fees by DIY-ing the process.

This is not true.

As stated in California’s lemon law, the manufacturer is required to pay for the consumer’s attorney fees and court costs. Due to this, most lemon law attorneys work on a contingency fee agreement. This means they make the fees as part of the total settlement AFTER they win the case – and they won’t charge you anything out of pocket to manage your claim.

No retainer fees, upfront costs, or anything else.

Moreover, they won’t even take your case if they don’t think they can win.

Second, the claim may be resolved quicker if you don’t hire a California lemon law lawyer. This might be true in some cases – but there is a big caveat. Lemon law cases generally get drawn out because the lemon law attorney is fighting for a fair settlement.

Obviously, a claim will be resolved quicker if you take the first settlement offer from the manufacturer. But 99 times out of 100, the initial offer isn’t anywhere close to fair – and the consumer usually ends up shortchanged.

Cons of a DIY Lemon Law Claim

1. You May Fall Victim to Trickery by the Manufacturer

Earning fair compensation for lemon cars requires negotiations with the manufacturer – and they don’t make it easy.

If you don’t have a skilled California lemon law attorney helping you during negotiations, the manufacturer’s legal teams will use a myriad of devious tactics to avoid providing a buyback. This may include:

  • Demanding arbitration
  • Downplaying the defect
  • Blaming you
  • Arguing about your evidence’s validity

A lemon law attorney will make sure you don’t fall victim to any of this.

2. The Process Will Probably Be Drawn Out

A common tactic manufacturers use in lemon law negotiations is to create unnecessary delays – in hopes you’ll give up and take a lowball settlement.

Keep in mind, not having a car is only inconvenient to you. The manufacturer does not care about this. A lemon law attorney knows how to keep pressure on the manufacturer’s legal team and make sure the process moves quickly.  

3. You Won’t Likely Earn a Fair Settlement

Most importantly, trying to represent yourself will almost certainly end in an insufficient settlement. The manufacturer’s defence team will use every single tool in their kit to minimize the settlement.

Plain and simple: if you don’t have the background and experience in CA lemon laws, there’s a very good chance you’ll fall victim to trickery from the manufacturer.

Pros of Hiring a Lemon Law Attorney

1. You Won’t Fall into Any Legal Traps

California lemon law lawyers spend every single day dealing with car manufacturers and their legal teams. Chances are, you’ve never dealt with this side of the auto industry.

When you work with an attorney, they will manage all the negotiations with the manufacturer’s legal teams. These attorneys know the common tricks manufacturers use to complicate the process – and won’t fall for them.

2. The Process of Earning a Buyback Will Be Fast

To echo a previous point, auto manufacturers are notorious for creating delays in the lemon law process. It’s the most basic defence tactic in hopes you’ll just take a low settlement to put the ordeal behind you.

A lemon law attorney won’t let this happen.

Think of it like this: Your California lemon law lawyer doesn’t get paid until they win the case. They will do everything possible to wrap up negotiations as quickly as they can.

3. You’ll Get Every Penny You Are Owed

Manufacturers commonly try to downplay defects to minimize their responsibility. When you hire a reputable lemon law attorney, they will make sure you get a fair settlement – and not a penny less.

Cons of Hiring a Lemon Law Attorney

Auto manufacturers will try to convince you there are many drawbacks to hiring a lemon law attorney.

This is more trickery.

When you hire a California lemon law lawyer, the manufacturer’s legal team knows they will likely end up having to take responsibility for faulty manufacturing. When they’re dealing with an inexperienced consumer, they’ve got an easy job.

Should I Hire a Lemon Law Attorney?

Auto brands have extremely high-powered legal defense teams to deny lemon law claims. This is because a) lemon law buybacks (refunds) are expensive and b) admitting they produced and sold a defective vehicle is a mark against their global reputation.

Even if you are 100% positive your vehicle is a lemon, the manufacturer has no intention of paying you a fair settlement.

Legal defense teams have many different tricks and tactics to minimize California lemon law claims and leave consumers short-changed.

Unlike a consumer (who has likely never dealt with a lemon before), a lemon law attorney knows all these shady legal maneuvers and how to counter them.

California lemon law attorneys know all the CA lemon laws like the back of their hand – and will fight tooth and nail to make sure you get a fair settlement.

Without a skilled lemon law attorney, your chances of receiving fair compensation are very, very low.

Start with a FREE Lemon Law Consultation

The first step in seeking compensation for your lemon vehicle is speaking with an attorney to learn more about CA lemon laws.

We understand you’ve likely never dealt with this situation before – and reaching out to a lawyer may be intimidating. No matter what questions you have, we’re happy to answer them. There are no bad questions in lemon law, just bad actions that can compromise your settlement.

At Cline APC, we’re an experienced lemon law firm with many years of negotiating with auto manufacturers and helping clients earn rightful compensation for defective vehicles under CA lemon laws. We can help you, too.

Get started by calling 888-982-6915, sending an email to, or filling out a free case evaluation.

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