If you believe that you have purchased a lemon car, you could be entitled to relief under California lemon law. What this means is that consumers can have peace of mind that when buying a car under warranty, they do not have the possibility of having to fund repairs of defects that occur after purchasing.
What to Do If Your Car is a Lemon
When a car owner becomes aware that their vehicle has a defect and is possibly a lemon, the owner can bring the vehicle back to the dealer and require them to fix the defect, so long as it is still under warranty. If the owner has purchased an extended warranty, the dealer is also required to fix the defect if the defect occurs within the time frame of the extended warranty. In California, the dealer or manufacturer is given a reasonable number of attempts to repair the defect. In some cases, the dealer and the purchaser will agree to a replacement of the car or a buyback of the car.
If the dealer or manufacturer fails to repair the defect within a reasonable number of attempts, then the vehicle is deemed to be a lemon, and the owner must be given a refund or a replacement vehicle that is agreed upon by the owner. When this happens, the dealer may offer a replacement vehicle that is identical to the original, or one that is similar. In the case of a refund, the dealer will typically refund the owner the purchase price minus any depreciation or mileage.
California lemon law does not just extend to newly purchased vehicles, but rather new, used, purchased, and leased vehicles. The law also applies to vehicles under extended warranty. For purposes of the law, it includes all cars, SUVs, and trucks.
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If the dealer and the owner of a lemon car agree to do a buyback, there will be a calculation of the amount that the dealer will pay to the owner. This amount could include all monthly payments made so far, the down payment if there was one, sales tax, charges for financing, registration fees, incidental damages, such as paying for a rental car, and a payment of the loan balance, if there was a loan.
In the case of a car that was purchased without financing, the owner will be refunded the purchase price. If the car was used, the owner will be refunded his or her own purchase price, not the amount of the original purchase of the new car. In the case of a leased vehicle, the owner will be refunded the amount of all lease payments made, the down payment if there was one, any incidental damages, and any payments left to be made on the lease.
The dealer or manufacturer can offset the refund amount by the amount of mileage put on the vehicle. The offset formula is calculated by multiplying the amount that the owner paid for the vehicle and the amount of miles that the car was driven up until the defect and that amount is divided by 120,000, which is the average life expectancy of a car in California.
Help With Your Vehicle
In some circumstances, a car may not qualify to be considered a lemon under California lemon law, however, if the car is defective, the owner still could be entitled to a cash compensation for the diminished value of the car. The defect may be paid for even though it does not rise to the level of a substantial impairment. The manufacturer can pay the owner the diminished value of the car to keep the vehicle and use the money to deal with the problem. The warranty and the car will still be in the owner’s name.
If you believe that you have a lemon car, you may need to go through the lemon law process, which has several different paths. If your car is a lemon, you are entitled to a repair, repurchase, or replacement option. Call our office today to speak with an attorney about your concerns.