When Life Gives You A Lemon
That new car feeling - you want it to last forever. But suddenly, your car makes a funny engine sound. Or the electronics stop working. Maybe there’s a strange odor.
The new car feeling just became the worst feeling in the world.
“Did I just waste $35,000?”
If this is you, know that you’re certainly not the first person to which this has happened, and you won’t be the last. In fact, this happens so often that California has enacted “Lemon Laws” that may provide you help.
Do I have a “Lemon”?
If you have a problem with your new or leased vehicle that the dealership cannot fix after a few repair attempts, and it’s still under manufacturer’s warranty, then according to California law, you may have “a lemon.”
What should I Do?
First, keep all of your repair orders in a file. Your attorneys will review these to confirm whether your vehicle qualifies for relief.
Second, contact an attorney before having any other conversation with the dealership. Don’t get into an argument with the dealership or send them angry letters. That never helps.
What Do I Get?
If your vehicle is a “lemon,” then the law requires the manufacturer to “buy back” your vehicle. This means the down payment, and any payments you have made, are returned; the loan is paid-off, so that you no longer owe any payments. There may be an offset for the miles that you drove while the car was in good condition. Certain incidental expenses that you incurred (such as registration fees) are reimbursed to you.
Often times, there is a dispute as to whether your vehicle qualifies as a lemon. In such cases, the manufacturer and your attorney will try to settle for cash - essentially compensation for driving around in a vehicle that may not be a lemon, but which has caused you problems.
If the sides cannot reach an agreement, then the case proceeds to a trial, where a jury decides if your vehicle is a lemon.
How much does it cost me?
Nothing. It generally costs you nothing to retain an attorney to seek this type of relief, as the attorney is only paid if he/she can get a positive result.
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In conclusion, if you suspect your vehicle’s a lemon, don’t get angry or fight with the dealership. Keep all your repair orders in one place.
Remember that when life gives you a lemon, contact an attorney.