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      What Voids the Lemon Law in California?

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      What is the Lemon Law?

      According to the State of California Department of Justice, the lemon law offers protection against defective vehicles when repairs cannot be achieved after a “reasonable” number of attempts. The lemon law most frequently applies to newly purchased or leased vehicles in California that are still under the manufacturer’s warranty. This law also applies to full-time active-duty Armed Forces members stationed or residing in California at the time of purchase or lease, even if the vehicle was purchased or registered in a different state. The lemon law can also apply to used vehicles if they are still under a new car warranty by the manufacturer, seller, or distributor.

      How Does the Lemon Law Work for You?

      Under the lemon law, a manufacturer is required to buy back or replace a vehicle if it cannot repair a problem that is covered by the warranty, significantly impairs the use, value, or safety of the vehicle, and is not caused by excessive or unreasonable use of the vehicle after the sale. The law stipulates that these repairs must be completed within a “reasonable” number of attempts. “Reasonable” repairs are typically considered to be four repair attempts for a single defect or two repair attempts for potentially hazardous defects. Also, if the repair time for a vehicle totals 30 days or more, it would qualify as a lemon. In each instance, the vehicle must have the defect acknowledged and repairs attempted within 18 months or 18,000 miles of the original delivery date.

      What Voids the Lemon Law?

      Unfortunately, there are several instances where a defective car does not qualify as a lemon. In these scenarios, you could be left holding the bill.

      • Vehicle type: Not all personal vehicles are protected by the lemon law. For example, off-road vehicles, motorcycles, and the “house” portion of motor homes are not covered.
      • Illegal modifications: Modifications outside of the manufacturer’s recommendations may void coverage. This includes changes to the chassis, suspension, engine, exhaust system, or other essential components.
      • Intentional misuse: If the vehicle’s offending defects are a result of abuse, neglect, or unauthorized repairs, this can also void the lemon law application.
      • Lack of maintenance: Failure to properly adhere to the manufacturer’s recommended maintenance guidelines may also lead to a dismissal of your claim.
      • “Reasonable” number of repair attempts: While there is no specified number for what the lemon law deems a “reasonable” number of attempts, it is generally accepted that four repair attempts for a non-safety issue and two attempts for a safety issue are reasonable grounds for a lemon law claim.

      How Long Do I Have to File a Lemon Law Claim?

      For new vehicles, consumers must note the defect and have attempted repairs within 18 months or 18,000 miles. However, it is important to note that the lemon law does not apply only to new vehicles. New purchases, leases, and used vehicles may all be protected under the lemon law. California observes a four-year statute of limitations for lemon law claims.

      How Do I File a Lemon Law Claim?

      Good documentation is recommended to have a successful claim. Relevant documents include a copy of your purchase or lease agreement, a copy of the warranty, orders, receipts for repairs, and receipts for incidental costs related to the defect, such ascab or tow charges. However, one of the most important things you need in your corner is someone familiar with California lemon law.

      What Tactics Should I Avoid From Manufacturers?

      The legal teams associated with manufacturers know how to get their way. All too often, this is at the consumer’s expense. Here are several common practices employed by manufacturers that could keep you from seeing the results you deserve.

      • Signing away the warranty and lemon law California rights: a common practice is for manufacturers to offer a settlement for a defect of warranty extension plus a month or two off from payments. The signed papers often have clauses releasing the right to pursue lemon law claims or anything else related to the breach of warranty.
      • Arbitration: another common tactic used by manufacturers is arbitration versus bringing a case to court. Arbitration brings your case before one single arbitrator or panel of arbitrators. Manufacturers have been found to sponsor the arbitrator, and the ruling is almost always in favor of the company. Even when these cases end favorably for the consumer, they rarely see the compensation repaid by a court.
      • Not reading lemon law clauses in purchase agreements: some manufacturers have a clause stating you will agree to arbitration before the vehicle has left the car lot. This leaves the consumer with no option to take a case before a judge. Tesla, for example, has this arbitration clause in its agreement, and buyers have 30 days to opt out of this.

      Do I Need a Lawyer to Handle My Case?

      The manufacturer’s lawyers are relentless. They know the law. They will try to find every loophole to avoid paying any owed fees or expenses. Wouldn’t you feel better to have someone on your side just as tenacious and knowledgeable? Here at Ibrahim Law Firm, APC, we will work with you and for you to get you every penny you deserve. Call us today at 626-600-0890 or fill out our contact form for a free consultation.

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