If you are in California, and you have a possible lemon law claim because your car is defective, then the bad news is that you have to deal with the hassle of having a lemon, but the good news is that you have the benefit of being in the state with the strongest lemon laws.
California Lemon Law Basics
California lemon laws were put to the test in a study done by the Center for Auto Safety, which conducted a study of lemon laws across all fifty states, and Washington D.C. In the study, the Center for Auto Safety determined that California’s law was the strongest. The study evaluated several variables including:
- The number of attempts that a manufacturer had to repair defects before the vehicle is determined to be a lemon
- Whether the law took into account safety lemon provisions and how protective the provision was
- The length of the coverage of lemon law or the presumption period
- How much the manufacturer could offset from the refund price
- Whether the law allowed the owner a civil penalty, double, or triple damages
- The amount and types of vehicles covered by the laws
- Whether the state runs an arbitration program
- Whether the consumer or the manufacturer must pay for the attorneys fees
- Whether the refund option includes all costs that were involved in having a lemon, including fees, lost rights, filing the claim, and arbitration
What is a Lemon?
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Overall, it appears that California hovers around or close to the top as far as consumer-friendly lemon laws and strong protections. California’s car laws are consumer protection laws that the legislation has given the nickname “lemon laws,” because troublesome vehicles are commonly referred to as lemons. In California, new or used cars that are either sold new, sold used, or leased, and are under the manufacturer’s warranty or extended warranties, and have not been repaired in a reasonable amount of attempts, are considered lemons. In this state, cars, SUVs, trucks, some commercial vehicles, and some watercraft vehicles can be classified as lemons and be protected under lemon laws.
If your car is defective, and has problems that are not due to poor maintenance or a car collision, then you may have a lemon if the defect is a substantial impairment. A substantial impairment is one that affects the value, use, or safety of the vehicle. This is not a high standard to reach in California, because defects in many parts of a vehicle can be a potential safety issue, since cars are heavy and travel at high speeds and in close proximity to other vehicles. The car does not actually have to put the driver or a passenger in danger, but rather have the potential to.
If your car is a lemon, the lemon laws allow the manufacturer a reasonable amount of attempts to repair the vehicle. The reasonableness usually means one to two attempts for defects that are a safety issue, such as defects in the engine, transmission, or the airbags. On the other hand, the manufacturer usually has about three to four attempts to repair defects that are not a serious safety concern, such as the air conditioning, or the electrical systems. The law gives the option, after a vehicle is determined to be a lemon, for the manufacturer to repair, repurchase, or replace the vehicle.
Help With Your Car
If you live in California and believe that you have a lemon, you may be entitled to relief under the lemon laws. Luckily, the lemon laws in California tend to favor the consumer, rather than the manufacturer. California lemon laws take into account the serious safety concerns of having defective vehicles, and want to make sure that vehicle consumers are protected. If you have questions or concerns regarding your vehicle or the California lemon laws, contact our office to speak with an attorney today.