Who Regulates Car Dealerships in California?

In California, we have laws to protect consumers from buying a vehicle that breaks down shortly after driving it off the lot. But what happens to the dealership if they are found to have sold a lemon? To find out, we need to understand who regulates car dealerships in California.

The Department of Consumer Affairs

When it comes to lemon law, car dealerships answer to the Department of Consumer Affairs (DCA). If a consumer believes they have been sold a lemon under warranty, they can file a complaint through the DCA office, separate from their ability to file a civil claim. This leads to a process called the “Arbitration Certification Program.”

In the Arbitration Certification Program, a neutral, third-party arbitrator examines the evidence and determines whether the dealership violated lemon law. This is a free process and does not require an attorney, which could be harmful to your case.

Once the arbitrator makes their verdict, their decision can be used as evidence if you file a civil claim against the dealership. If the arbitrator decides against your claim, this can make it extremely difficult to prove your vehicle is a lemon later on. If you instead hire a lemon law attorney to manage your case from the outset, you have a better chance of obtaining justice.

New Motor Vehicle Board

For a dispute to go through the DCA, the manufacturer must have gone through a state-certified arbitration process. If they did not, the consumer may be able to file a lemon claim with the New Motor Vehicle Board (NMV), a subdepartment of the Department of Motor Vehicles (DMV).

More often, claims through the NMV deal with recreational vehicles, semi-trucks, and motorcycles. Worth noting is that the NMV cannot enforce lemon laws, they can only mediate to assist both parties in reaching a mutually agreeable resolution.

Know Your Options

Before you consider making a claim with either the NMV or the DCA, consider consulting an experienced lemon law attorney. Making a civil claim through the courts rather than an arbitration improves your odds of holding dealers accountable for selling you a lemon and gives you a better chance at obtaining justice.

For all of your lemon law needs and questions contact Norman Taylor & Associates at (888) 449-7639! We have the experience to ensure you are taken care of.

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