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How to Pursue a Lemon Law Claim in California

CA Consumer Law APC

October 30, 2023

When you purchase a car, you expect it to be reliable and defect-free. But too often, vehicle transactions are plagued by defects and numerous trips to the auto mechanic. This is where California’s Lemon Law comes into play. Whether you’re experiencing frustrating issues or simply wish to stay informed for the future, we’ll walk you through pursuing a lemon law claim in California.

Understanding California’s Lemon Law

Before anything, it’s important to understand California’s Lemon Law, which lays out the criteria for your vehicle to qualify as a “lemon.” This law applies to new and used vehicles still under the manufacturer’s warranty. Generally, the law considers a vehicle a “lemon” if it has substantial defects that impair its use, value, or safety and the issue persists after a reasonable number of repair attempts, which we’ll explain in detail below.

Repair & Repair Orders

As mentioned above, you must allow the manufacturer's "authorized representative" (usually the dealer) to repair your warrantied vehicle. Taking your car to an unauthorized mechanic could void the warranty and prevent you from pursuing a legal claim.

Every time you take your vehicle to the shop, ask for repair orders so that you have a paper trail. You may need these documents to pursue a legal claim down the line. 

Allow Reasonable Attempts

California Lemon Law allows the dealer a reasonable number of repair opportunities to fix the same defect. In some circumstances, there is a rebuttable presumption as to what constitutes a reasonable number.Finally, if your vehicle has spent over 30 days in the repair shop due to a  problem covered by the warranty, it may mean the dealer has gone beyond what is considered reasonable for fixing the issue."

Prepare to Pursue a Claim

If you feel the dealer has failed to fix the defect within a reasonable number of repair opportunities, we advise you to gather all of your paperwork—repair orders, a copy of your purchase or lease agreement, and any other documents related to the purchase or repair of your vehicle. Then, contact our experienced legal team.

Key Lemon Law Insights to Consider

In addition to taking these steps, you should also know that:

Your Car Warranty Does Not Need to Be Current: If your warranty expires, the Lemon Law still applies to vehicles previously repaired under the original manufacturer’s warranty. In other words, if you experience recurring issues with your car and had it repaired under warranty, you may still be eligible to pursue a Lemon Law Claim—even if your warranty has expired. However, you should note that you have four years to bring a claim from when you discovered your vehicle may be a lemon. Contacting an attorney sooner rather than later is always best.

You Do Not Need a Demand Letter: While a demand letter can be a valuable tool to initiate negotiations and avoid a legal case, you are not required to send a formal demand letter to the vehicle manufacturer before pursuing legal action.

Arbitration is Not Required: California's Lemon Law does not require the consumer to participate in the manufacturer's Better Business Bureau (BBB) Auto Line arbitration process.

Don’t Let a Lemon Sour Your Consumer Experience!

Are you a California consumer who purchased a defective car, RV, motorcycle, or product that fails to meet warranty standards? Get legal assistance from CA Consumer Law APC. Our team has extensive experience in California's Lemon Law, helping consumers seek recourse against manufacturers. Request a free consultation to get started!

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