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Defects and repairs can qualify your car as a lemon

Being sold a lemon is much more than just an expression. If your car is repeatedly breaking down or is fundamentally flawed, then under California law it may be considered a “lemon”. Driving a lemon is a major headache that no consumer should have to settle for. That is why there are a few key protections in place for this situation.

You could be due substantial compensation from the manufacturer, or even a replacement vehicle if you’ve been saddled with a lemon. Before these consumer remedies can take effect, however, first you will need to determine if your car is a lemon. There are a few ways your car may qualify.

Identifying a lemon

It is always good practice to keep a record of issues your vehicle has. In addition to being useful for your own records, a dated, detailed account of mechanical matters your car suffers makes for compelling evidence that your car is a lemon. There are two principle ways your car may be considered a lemon:

  • Your vehicle has a “substantial defect” which is covered by its warranty.
  • Your vehicle continues to suffer the same problem after a “reasonable number” of repair attempts.

In essence, you probably have a lemon if your low mileage vehicle keeps breaking down or has a major defect. Arguing that you have a lemon can be a complex matter, enlisting the aid of a skilled attorney is one of the best ways you can advocate for yourself.

What is a substantial defect?

A substantial defect is a problem, not caused by you, that dramatically damages your car’s use, value or your own safety. This could include your brakes suddenly failing while you are driving or a metal defect which causes your axel to crack.

There is a slight grey area here and precisely why the help of a professional is so critical. An electrical problem causing your power locks to malfunction may not qualify as a “substantial” defect, but if the same electrical problem causes a fire it could be a different story.

What are a reasonable number of repairs?

A low mileage car should not suffer the same problem repeatedly. If your vehicle has been in and out of the shop for the same problem, it may also qualify as a lemon. What is considered a “reasonable” number of repairs can vary based on the situation, but generally 4 attempts without resolution qualifies a vehicle as a lemon.

A vehicle is a major investment for most people. Don’t let the sense of satisfaction and freedom you felt while driving off the lot in your car fade. There is no shame in making use of your consumer protections – get your fair due.

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