It is the outcome that no new car buyer hopes for: that new car you saved for, put a big downpayment on, and have been paying down is not the defect-free vehicle you thought you were buying, and not worth the price you paid. In short, you have a lemon on your hands.

California law gives new car users like yourself the right to demand that the seller replace your car or repurchase it. Here is how you, as the consumer, go about taking advantage of your lemon law rights under California law.

How to Know if You Have a Lemon

Cars invariably do break down, and normal wear-and-tear and other problems will eventually arise, but how do you know if have a genuine lemon? California law says if a manufacturer is unable to service or repair a new motor vehicle, to conform to the applicable express warranties after a “reasonable number” of repair attempts, it must promptly replace or repurchase the car.

Although the law does not specify what constitutes a reasonable number of repair attempts, it does say that any new car under warranty in its first 18,000 miles or 18 months of ownership (whichever comes first) will be presumed to be a lemon if:

  • The manufacturer has made four or more attempts to fix the same problem;
  • There is an issue with the car that could cause death or serious bodily injury when driven and the manufacturer has made two attempts to fix it; or
  • The car has been out of use for service repairs for 30 days or more.

Furthermore, the above issues cannot be caused by “abuse of the vehicle” such as through a car accident or reckless actions by the driver.

It is important to remember that the above grounds for asserting a lemon law claim will create a presumption in your favor. If your case does not fit within this presumption, you may still have a valid lemon law claim so long as it can be shown that the manufacturer or its authorized repair facilities did not repair the vehicle after a reasonable number of attempts.

Bringing Your Lemon Law Claim Against the Manufacturer

If you have reason to believe that you have a lemon on your hands, the next step would be to work with a California lemon law attorney to bring your lemon law claim to court. The manufacturer may try to steer you towards their so-called “alternative dispute resolution” program, or “ADR,” but you as the consumer have a right to bring your lemon law claim to court.

The manufacturer’s attorneys may try to defeat your lemon law claim by arguing that you did not meet the proper requirements for repair efforts, the issues with the car are not that serious, or that the problems stem from the way that you handled your car. The manufacturer will take a big financial hit if the car is determined to be a lemon as it will have to replace or repurchase your car, so clearly the manufacturer’s attorneys will be motivated to defeat your lemon law claim. An experienced consumer lemon law attorney, however, will effectively and persuasively make your case for why you qualify under California’s lemon law.

Get Help With Your Claim From an Experienced Lemon Law Attorney

Thomas Ledbetter at The Ledbetter Law Firm, APC spent a decade working as legal counsel to automotive manufacturers and dealers in responding to consumer litigation. During that time he gained a wealth of knowledge and experience litigating lemon law claims. He now represents California consumers in achieving fair and just outcomes to their lemon law claims. Contact The Ledbetter Law Firm, APC to see how we can help you achieve victory in your lemon law claim.

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