Is your new or used car a lemon? According to California’s Lemon Law (Civ. Code, § 1793.22), a vehicle that is still under the manufacturer’s new car warranty, even if it has been sold as a used car to another buyer, that is found to be defective and cannot be repaired after a reasonable number of attempts is a lemon. If you’ve purchased a lemon, you could be entitled to a replacement or repurchase of the vehicle. Here are four tips that can help you win your lemon law case.
Tip #1: Document Everything Relating To Your Lemon Law Case
Because of the way the law is written, you are required to show that reasonable attempts at repairing your vehicle’s defect were unsuccessful. The most important evidence you have that these attempts were made is through documents from the repair shop and the manufacturer about your complaints, the work that was recommended and performed, and the details of your conversations with these entities. Some other types of information you should keep as evidence for your case include:
- A list of all repair attempts and how long your vehicle was out of service for each attempt.
- Written, dated lists of the problems you’ve asked your repair shop to look at and photographs or videos of the problems. You should provide these lists, photographs, and videos to the repair shop, but should also keep copies of them for yourself.
- A list of the defects you have experienced, including any strange sounds or smells that occur when you run your car.
- Any technical service bulletins (TSB) that have been issued on your car’s make and model by the manufacturer. TSBs are available to dealerships so that their service departments are aware of supposed fixes for known issues. You can check to see if your vehicle has relevant TSBs here.
Tip #2: Make Sure You Have Provided All Required Information
Both you and your repair shop are required to document certain information when dealing with a lemon vehicle. Your repair shop must provide a service report or invoice that includes the following information:
- Mileage on the vehicle
- Dates when the vehicle was being serviced
- The customer’s complaints. This is the part that repair shops often change or neglect to include in the service report. You should watch the monitor while your complaints are being inputted into the computer to confirm that they each are being accurately and thoroughly recorded.
- The repairs that were attempted.
The invoice must also provide the following information:
- Make, model, and year of the vehicle
- The VIN number, which is usually found on the inside of the driver-side door
- The name of the service writer and the mechanic or technician who attempted the repairs.
Tip #3: Know What a “Reasonable Number of Attempts” at Repair Means, and Who Can Provide Them
Generally, California law holds that four attempts at repairing your vehicle’s defect are enough, and you are unlikely to see a different result from additional attempts. However, if the problem is likely to cause serious bodily injury or death, two attempts may be enough. You must ensure that the repair shop that attempts to fix the defect is an authorized repair facility that has been certified by the manufacturer of your vehicle to perform the repairs. While you can go to the dealership where you purchased or leased the car, you also may go to another authorized repair facility for the repairs. Failing to use an authorized repair facility for the repairs not only will not count toward the number of repair attempts required by the Lemon Law, but it also can void your warranty.
Tip #4: Contact an Experienced Lemon Law Attorney
Lemon law cases can be complex, requiring extensive knowledge of not only the laws pertaining to defective vehicles but also the requirements that the process places on yourself as well as the manufacturer and the repair shop. It is crucial that you protect the investment you have in your vehicle, as well as your own personal safety and the safety of your loved ones by contacting an experienced lemon law attorney as soon as possible.
Your attorney can ensure that you have gathered the documentation that is required and that your claim is filed within the statutory timeframe for doing so. Additionally, your attorney can provide guidance as to the pros and cons of accepting a refund or a replacement and can properly value the expenses you have incurred while trying to get your vehicle repaired. Your attorney can also assist you in determining if there are other state and federal laws that pertain to your case which can impact the amount of compensation you are entitled to receive.
If you have a lemon car, there’s no reason to suffer any longer. Reach out today for a free consultation.