Debunking 3 Common Myths about Lemon Laws

Buying a new car should be exciting. The last thing you want to deal with is discovering that you have a lemon. Fortunately, California's lemon law offers protections for consumers in this situation. When a vehicle is defective and cannot be repaired, you may have grounds to file a lemon law claim.

California Lemon Law Basics

Generally speaking, the lemon law applies to situations in which a vehicle is rendered defective after a reasonable number of repairs have been attempted.

To qualify for a lemon law claim, the vehicle's problems must be covered under the manufacturer's warranty, the issue must have surfaced either in the first 18,000 miles or the first 18 months of delivery (whichever comes first), and the issue must negatively impacts the use, safety, or value of the vehicle.

Vehicles covered by lemon law:

Lemon law also covers the chassis, chassis cab, and drive train of an RV or motor home. To learn more about the basics of California's lemon law, review the LA County Consumer & Business Affairs site here.

Below we debunk three of the most pervasive myths about lemon law and what to do if you think you have a lemon.

Myth #1: Only New Cars Qualify for a Lemon Law Claim

Many people believe that to qualify for lemon law, they have to have purchased a brand-new car. This is not the case.

California's lemon law covers new, used, and leased vehicles. What matters most when determining if the law covers a car is whether the manufacturer's original warranty still covers the car and the repair issue in question.

On average, a manufacturer's warranty will run for about three years or 36,000 miles. When buying or leasing a car, new or used, it is important to get all warranty information at the time of purchase.

California's lemon law does not cover:

  • Vehicles that have been abused
  • Vehicles that are not registered under the California Vehicle Code (such as off-road vehicles)

Myth #2: Modifications Render a Car Ineligible for a Lemon Law Claim

People often worry that if they have modified their car or vehicle, these modifications will render the vehicle ineligible for lemon claims. However, this is not necessarily true. Many modifications have no impact on whether you can file a claim or not.

If you are in a situation where you have modified your car and think it may qualify as a lemon, you should consult with an experienced lemon law attorney, like ours at Norman Taylor & Associates. They can help you review the terms of your car's warranty and help you determine if you have a case.

Myth #3: Lemon Law Claims Cannot Be Made After the Warranty Expires

Even if your car's warranty has expired, you may still have grounds to file a lemon law claim. The California statute of limitations on lemon cases is four years from the date that the vehicle owner knew/should have known that the manufacturer would not or could not repair the issue.

Determining when this date is and whether you are still eligible to file a claim can be tricky. Your attorney can investigate your case and help you identify when this date should be and whether you are within the statute of limitations.

What to Do If You Think You Have a Lemon

If you believe you have grounds to file a claim, you should reach out to an experienced lawyer for guidance. Your attorney can help you determine if you have grounds for a suit and guide you throughout the claims process. Lemon cases can be incredibly complicated, and the support of a skilled lawyer is invaluable.

Additionally, you should collect all documentation regarding your car's sale, the car's warranty, and any repair work you have already had done to address the issue, including receipts for repairs. You also want to collect any documentation you have regarding the problem itself, even if it seems only tangentially related. When dealing with your lemon law case, the more information you have, the better.

Call Norma Taylor & Associates for a free case evaluation or send us a message online.

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