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California Lemon Law Blog

Lemon aware: A look at the 2018 car complaint index

The ads for model-year closeout sales on 2018 vehicles are showing up on television. This is the time when carmakers and dealers look to unload their remaining stock and make way for the next year's lineup.

Cost-sensitive consumers in California who have been biding their time on making a vehicle purchase might now be getting the itch to pull the trigger. Before that happens, it might be worth looking at a listing of the top 20 models of vehicles that have reportedly sparked the greatest number of complaints from drivers, as assembled by Jack Gillis, consumer advocate, and the Center for Auto Safety. The numbers show the number of complaints per sale of each model.

A lawsuit may be appropriate in cases of dealer fraud

California residents who buy a used car may have the ability to file a lawsuit if the vehicle is defective. The exact rights a person has depends on whether the car was bought at a dealer or from an individual and if there was a warranty on the vehicle. If there is a warranty on the vehicle that isn't honored, a car owner may be entitled to compensation for money spent on repairs.

It is important to note that a vehicle may be sold "as-is", which means that there is no implied or specific guarantee as to its condition. A lawsuit may also be effective if there is evidence of fraud or if a dealer failed to disclose issues related to a used car. Fraud may occur if the odometer is rolled back or if damage to the body or frame are deliberately disguised.

Buying back Lemon Law vehicles

The Lemon Law in California provides a number of protections for vehicle consumers. The law may be applied to cases in which the manufacturer of a defective vehicle is unable to correct the defect in the car after a few attempts. Individuals may use then Lemon Law to seek financial damages from the manufacturer. There are multiple ways the manufacturer can pay restitution if the individuals win their Lemon Law case.

One of the most common ways vehicle manufacturers provide compensation is by repurchasing, or buying back, the vehicle. The vehicle purchaser will be compensated for registration fees, the down payment, monthly payments as well as additional damages in some cases. After the manufacturer has repurchased the vehicle, it will register the vehicle under its name and note on the certificate that the vehicle was a Lemon Law buyback. The manufacturer may be able to claim a deduction for the miles that were accumulated in the vehicle before the initial attempt to repair it.

Large trucks could be given lemon law protection

If SB 713 passes in California, it will expand the states lemon law to include commercial trucks. It would apply to trucks that weigh more than 10,000 pounds and are owned and operated by a business of any size. The bill was proposed after complaints from the Western States Trucking Association (WSTA). It claimed that new trucks were down for too long because emissions equipment was malfunctioning.

Under the proposed law, the trucks would be covered for up to 18 months or 100,000 miles. To qualify as a lemon, the truck would need to be down for 30 days because of repairs of a dangerous defect that is covered by its warranty. It would also qualify if the manufacturer were notified of the issue and at least four attempts to rectify the matter. If the bill passes, California would be one of just two states that offers protection to large truck owners.

What to do if a car isn't working properly

Vehicles that are purchased from dealerships in California or any other state should function properly off the lot. However, those who have problems with their vehicles may find that speaking to the owner of the dealership where it was purchased will remedy the issue. If not, a customer can contact the manufacturer directly to resolve the issue or issues that he or she has with the vehicle.

In some cases, defective cars or other vehicles could be covered under the California lemon law. This may be true if the defects occurred within 18 months of taking delivery or in the first 18,000 miles that the car was driven. It may also be deemed a lemon if it spends 30 or more days being repaired for the same issue. Prior to making a claim under this law, the dealer or manufacturer needs to be given multiple attempts to fix the issue.

Lemon laws don’t only cover new California cars

California residents tend to have a narrow view of their legal protections against poor vehicles. Many believe that new cars are the only eligible vehicles for compensation or buyback, but fortunately this isn’t the case.

This misconception could be holding residents back from finally owning a well-functioning machine. If you have a motorized product that doesn’t work as advertised, you may be able to take advantage of these laws to avoid wasting your money – even if the vehicle is something other than a new car.

How a lemon law claim is possible even after warranty expiration

California's lemon law, formally known as the Song-Beverly Consumer Warranty Act, is an important one for anyone buying or leasing a new or used car, truck, boat, motorcycle or other vehicle in the state. This is the law that makes clear that, if your vehicle doesn't perform as described under its express warranty, you have specific rights to remedies.

State statutes spell out the nature those remedies may take as well. They include:

The dealer refused to repair your new car. Now what?

The excitement of swapping your old vehicle with a shiny new one is a thrill that you feel whenever you get in your car. Not all new cars function properly, however. If you’re disappointed with the vehicle’s unsafe performance, you will feel frustrated and nervous every time you get behind the wheel instead.

Normally, you could take the car back to the dealership, explain the problem and receive an offer from the dealer to repair or examine the issue, but your dealer might not be helpful. Some vehicle owners get stuck when the dealer and manufacturer disregard the issue entirely.

Rough sailing? Give your boat the Lemon Law test

You purchased a boat so that you could enjoy time out on the water, but so far it has been a nightmare. The time you would like to spend with family and friends has now been replaced with trips back and forth to the boat dealer and visits with the repair personnel to get to the bottom of your vessel’s problems.

If you’re tired of hassling with the issues plaguing your boat, maybe it’s time to give your boat the Lemon Law Test.

An introduction to California's Lemon Law

As a new car owner you are probably very excited about your purchase. You did the math and factored in all the money you will save by not having to make costly repairs to your vehicle. The newfound sense of safety and security in your new car far outweighs the monthly payments. But what if your sparkling new car is not living up to the expectations and you are facing unexpected problems and repeated visits to the dealership for repairs?

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