What Should You Do If You Buy a Lemon in California

It’s a cautious shopper’s worst nightmare. You need to replace your car, so you carefully consider your options. You choose your dealership with care and test-drive multiple models before deciding on exactly the right one. You even make sure to buy new things instead of used to take the possibility of any problems off the table.

Then things start to go wrong with your new ride anyway, one after the other and through no fault of your own. Before long, you’re forced to admit you bought a lemon. However, it’s important to know that if you live in California, you don’t have to simply take the loss lying down. Here’s a look at what to do.

Be Familiar with the Law

All 50 states have a lemon law on the books to help protect consumers when purchasing dealership vehicles, California included. Under the law, you’re entitled to seek either monetary compensation or an appropriate replacement vehicle should you ever wind up in a situation like the one detailed above.

However, it’s still important to know what California’s lemon law does and doesn’t cover. In order to qualify for protection, your new vehicle needs to meet the following criteria:

  • You need to have purchased it from a dealership. Vehicles purchased online, via classifieds, or under any other circumstances do not qualify.
  • It can be pre-owned, as long as it’s still covered by the original manufacturer’s warranty.
  • It can be either leased or purchased to own.
  • You need to have purchased the vehicle in California.
  • It must be a passenger vehicle weighing less than 10,000 pounds.
  • The defect in question needs to significantly impact the vehicle’s value, safety, or driver experience.

If your vehicle doesn’t meet those criteria for any reason, you should look into whether you’re protected under the Magnuson-Moss Warranty Act instead.

Get in Touch with the Manufacturer

To qualify for lemon law compensation, you must allow the manufacturer of your vehicle a reasonable opportunity to repair the issue. In California, that means allowing them up to four repair attempts for a single defect and up to two attempts for a significant safety defect. You also qualify once your vehicle spends 30 or more days out of service due to repairs.

All repair attempts need to occur within 18 months of the vehicle purchase or 18,000 miles, whichever rolls around first. Keep careful records throughout this process in case they’re needed at any future point. Record any and all issues you’re having with the vehicle in detail, as well, and notify the manufacturer.

Speak with a Lemon Law Lawyer

Although it’s not impossible to pursue lemon law compensation on your own, you stand a much better chance of getting everything you’re entitled to if you have an experienced California lemon law attorney on your side.

  • Experienced legal professionals – especially those specializing in lemon law cases – know how to navigate the ins and outs of the law to maximize results.
  • You can rest easy in the knowledge that every step of the process is being handled correctly and efficiently.
  • You may be entitled to additional compensation over and above what you paid for your vehicle, and the right attorney can help ensure you get it.
  • Attorneys can handle much of the process of filing and pursuing a claim for you, so you can focus on living your life.

Be sure to hire the right type of attorney to help you with your case. They should be based in California and specialize in lemon law cases. They should be able to show you a glowing track record, recommendations, and endorsements, as well.

Ultimately, no one wants to realize they wound up with a lemon. However, it happens more often than you think, and there’s help out there if it happens to you. The sooner you look into your options, the sooner you can put the problem to bed for good.