In these tough economic times the cost of buying, insuring and maintaining
a new vehicle can become prohibitive. One way consumers have found to
save on the cost of a new car is to buy the vehicle out of state to avoid
the sales tax. This practice does have a major drawback since the
California lemon law applies only to vehicles purchased within the state.
California’s Song-Beverly Consumer Warranty Act of 1970 was the first
milestone in consumer protection and it is one of the best in the United
States. Under this act, manufacturers were only entitled to a reasonable
number of attempts to repair defective consumer goods. If unsuccessful,
they were compelled to either replace the goods or refund the purchase
price. The legislation also made it economically viable for consumers
to bring warranty suits by providing for an award of attorney’s
fees. The Song-Beverly Act became the model for nearly all the lemon laws
that followed in other states.
California led the way once again in 1982 with the Tanner Consumer Protection
Act, which specifically defined guidelines for a “reasonable number
of repair attempts,” and again in 1991 with the Automotive Consumer
Notification Act, which was meant to reduce what is known as “lemon
laundering” (the practice of reselling lemons to unsuspecting car buyers).
There is however, a double-edged requirement to these consumer protection
laws - most states require the vehicle to be purchased in that state and
the owner filing a claim to be a resident in that state (CA does not require
residency). So if you buy a car out of state to save the sales tax, you
might end up with no protection at all should the vehicle turn out to
be defective. The vehicle warranty will of course apply, but you may not
be entitled to a replacement or refund if the manufacturer or dealer is
unable to permanently resolve the problem with your vehicle.
“It is definitely no fun being on the receiving end when manufacturers
and their dealerships do not take responsibility for defects in the cars
they sell, even though they know the defects exist,” said Norman
Taylor, a leading California lemon law attorney. “The law is an
attempt to put you in the driver’s seat, but you have to fulfill
the requirements of the law to benefit.”
If you are a California resident and you are driving a lemon purchased
in this state, the law is squarely behind you. Contact a qualified lemon
law attorney right away.