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Lemon Law Lawyer Los Angeles

Consumers in California rely heavily on their vehicles. When you buy or lease a new vehicle, you should expect that your vehicle will perform as designed. Unfortunately, this is not always the case. When one is stuck with a “lemon,” it can often feel overwhelming.

Fortunately, the Los Angeles, CA lemon law is a consumer-friendly law that requires manufacturers who manufacture a “lemon” to make it right. Our experienced legal team can help you. If the vehicle qualifies as a lemon, the manufacturer will pay your legal fees. Call us for a free consultation.

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What is the Lemon Law in California?

In 1970, California enacted the Song-Beverly Consumer Warranty Act (“Song Beverly”) found at California Civil Code Section 1790 et. seq.. Song Beverly requires manufacturers to replace a defective product or reimburse the buyer if the product cannot be repaired after a reasonable number of attempts as long as the product is under a manufacturer’s warranty.

 

What Does “Reasonable Attempts At Repair” Mean For Your Lemon Vehicle?

Reasonable attempts means the manufacturer has had the opportunity to make a reasonable number of repairs before you claimed your vehicle to be a lemon. In California, a reasonable number of attempts have been made if:

  • You have tried to fix a problem under warranty four or more times with no luck,
  • You have tried two or more times to fix a problem that could cause bodily injury or death
  • The problem with your vehicle has caused your vehicle to be out of service for more than 30 days

Defects For An Actionable Lemon Law Claim

If a consumer experiences substantial impairment to the use, value or safety of the vehicle the Song-Beverly Consumer Warranty Act applies. Some typical examples of defects that warrant an actionable claim under the Los Angeles, California lemon law include (but are not limited to) the following:

  •       Transmission Failure
  •       Acceleration Issues
  •       Stalling
  •       Failure to Start
  •       Battery issues
  •       Recurring check engine light warning
  •       Engine misfire
  •       Recurring airbag warning light
  •       Malfunctioning air conditioning and heating
  •       Malfunctioning battery
  •       Malfunctioning locking system
  •       Malfunctioning speedometer
  •       Malfunctioning fuel gauge
  •       Malfunctioning electrical system
  •       Malfunctioning seats/seat belts
  •       Malfunctioning side mirrors and windshield wipers
  •       Malfunctioning headlights, brake lights
  •       Malfunctioning brakes/ABS brake failure
  •       Defective Fuel Pump
  •        Paint and/or other defects on the body of the Vehicle
  •       Steering wheel issues
  •       Suspension Issues
  •       Overheating
  •       Issues concerning the cooling system
  •       Oil leaks and oil consumption
  •       Water leaks
  •        Exhaust odor
  •        Recurring and consistent issues with Bluetooth/navigation system

 

Please note that the above examples of defects is not a complete list of all actionable lemon law claims, but simply common examples. There are many other types of defects that may not be listed above that would qualify as a lemon.

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How Is The Mileage Offset Calculated?

The mileage offset is calculated by taking the purchase price of the vehicle and multiplying it by the miles driven by the consumer at the first repair attempt that qualifies the vehicle as a lemon and dividing it by 120,000 miles (the average life span of a vehicle in lemon law).

Here is an Example of the How Mileage Offset is Calculated:

The purchase price of a vehicle is $25,000 dollars and it is paid entirely in cash. The consumer takes in the vehicle to the dealership for repair at 1,000, 2,000 3,000 and 4,000 miles and the vehicle is deemed a lemon as a result of all of the four repair attempts. Hence, multiply $25,000 (purchase price) x 1,000 (first repair attempt) = 25,000,000/120,000 = $208.33. Based on this scenario, the client would receive $25,000 – $208.33 = $24,791.67 after the mileage offset is calculated.

 

How Many Consumer Complaints Warrant An Actionable Claim For A Vehicle Under The Los Angeles, California Lemon Law?

 

A vehicle manufacturer must repurchase or replace a vehicle if the manufacturer is unable to repair a vehicle to conform to the manufacturer’s express warranty after a reasonable number of repair attempts. Hence, the Los Angeles, California Lemon Law does not specify a specific number for “reasonable repair attempts.” Generally, if a defect could foreseeably cause serious bodily injury or death, even two repair attempts may warrant a repurchase under the Los Angeles, California lemon law. On the other hand, if the defect is relatively less serious, perhaps impacting only the value or use of the vehicle, three or more attempts may warrant a repurchase.

 

In sum, there is no golden number to determine if a vehicle qualifies as a lemon. In fact, in one case, after a manufacturing defect resulted in a fire that damaged a vehicle beyond reasonable repair, the vehicle was deemed a lemon even though no prior complaints were made. Bishop v. Hyundai Motor America (1996) 44 Cal. App. 4th 750.

In addition, to the “reasonable repair attempts” criteria above, within the Song-Beverly Consumer Warranty Act, there is also a presumption guideline wherein it is presumed that a vehicle is a “lemon” if the following criteria are met:

 

  • Within 18 months of delivery or 18,000 miles on the vehicle’s odometer there have been two or more attempts to repair a defect that could potentially cause serious bodily injury or death
  • Within 18 months of delivery or 18,000 miles on the vehicle’s odometer there have been four or more attempts to repair the same warranty problem
  • Within 18 months of delivery or 18,000 miles on the vehicle’s odometer the Vehicle has been at the dealership for 30 cumulative (not necessarily consecutive) days for a warranty problem.

If these conditions are met, there is a presumption that the vehicle qualifies as a lemon under the Song-Beverly Consumer Warranty Act. This rebuttable presumption shifts the burden to the manufacturer to establish that despite the presumption, the consumer is not entitled to a replacement or refund (for instance the manufacturer may argue that the problem was not substantial).

Note, Again That The “Presumption” Guideline Is Not The Only Means A Vehicle Qualifies As A Lemon. A Vehicle Can Qualify As A Lemon After 18,000 Miles And/Or 18 Months Of Delivery If The Manufacturer Is Unable To Conform To The Manufacturer’s Express Warranty After A “Reasonable Number” Of Repair Attempts. This Is Merely An Added Benefit.

COMMONLY ASKED QUESTIONS

What if the dealer cannot verify the complaint does that count as a repair attempt?

Every visit to the dealership for a repair counts as a repair attempt whether or not the dealer verifies the complaint. Therefore, take your vehicle in to the dealership as soon as possible to document your complaint. If you can establish evidence that the vehicle indeed has a valid nonconformity, all of the repair attempts would prove that the dealership failed to repair the problem after reasonable attempts.

If my vehicle qualifies as a lemon, how much do I have to pay an attorney?

NOTHING!  If your vehicle qualifies as a lemon under the Song-Beverly Warranty Consumer Act, the manufacturer will pay the attorney directly.

Does the California Lemon Law Apply to Used Cars?

It depends.  A used car may qualify as a lemon under the California lemon law if it is covered by the original manufacturer warranty, a dealer warranty or any other express warranty.  It is best to contact a lemon lawyer to find out about your rights.

Does the California Lemon Law Apply to Cars Used for Business?

Yes as long as there are no more than five vehicles registered in the business’s name and the vehicle’s gross weight does not exceed 10,000 pounds.

Does the California lemon law apply to leased cars?

Yes.   It doesn’t matter if your vehicle is leased or purchased, California lemon law protects you if you are stuck with a defective vehicle.

If my vehicle qualifies as a lemon, what damages am I entitled to?

Refund of your down payment

Refund of all of your monthly finance payments

Payoff of your existing loan

Your attorney’s fees fully paid by the manufacturer

Incidental damages/Out of pocket costs (towing, rental, etc)

However the manufacture can deduct from the total recovery the following:

    • Usage until the time of the first repair attempt for which the vehicle qualifies as a lemon
    • Factory rebates
    • Negative equity
    • Aftermarket items

What if I am nowhere near your office in Burbank?

We serve all of California and offer a free consultation over the phone.  Usually, there is no need to meet in person.  Documents can be exchanged and signed via facsimile, mail, or electronic mail (email).  If necessary, we can also come to you.

Los Angeles Lemon Law Attorney You Can Rely On

While you may feel helpless in this situation, we understand what you are going through and are here to help.  We have helped consumers like you get the full compensation they are entitled to after purchasing a lemon. If you are looking for a Los Angeles, California Lemon Law firm “near me”, look no further than the Law Office of Alisa Goukasian.