Currently in the US, 50 states have a version of what’s known as the lemon law. The majority of these statutes are modeled around the California template of legislation, which has been in effect for over 40 years. Despite the ubiquity of lemon laws across the country, and the superior strength of the California derivation, it remains one of the lesser-known consumer protections. So, what’s the California auto lemon law, who can it assist, and how can it be invoked.
California’s lemon law, the Song-Beverly Consumer Warranty Act, applies to a wide range of products including electronics, appliances, boats and automobiles. In relation to vehicles, the law requires that if a car is found to be faulty, unsafe, or not of the value at which it was represented, the manufacturer must repair it or provide another solution. If, after a reasonable number of attempts, they are unable to repair it, they must replace the vehicle, or refund the purchase costs. The law applies to both new car purchases and used car sales, providing they came with an original manufacturer’s warranty. It protects consumers that either buy or lease a new or used vehicle.
In California, there have been recent legislative alterations to the law, as championed by the Consumers for Auto Reliability and Safety (CARS). Under the expanded legislation, protection is now guaranteed to active military service members, small business operators, and entrepreneurs owning up to five vehicles. Other changes to the law include strengthened safeguards against cars shown to have safety defects that pose a threat to life, as well as a prohibition on confidentiality in lemon law settlements.
A first point of contact for anyone who feels they have been sold a lemon vehicle, will be the manufacturer. If the car maker is willing to repair, replace, or refund, as deemed appropriate, no further action need be taken against them. If, however, they refuse or cannot meet a customer’s request for a satisfactory resolution, it could be necessary to proceed with legal action. California’s auto lemon law allows for customers to initiate arbitration filings up to six months post the expiration date of the applicable warranty.
Whilst it may be tempting to try and resolve the matter of your own, and there is nothing to prevent you from doing so, it’s often very stressful to discover that such a significant purchase has turned out to be a lemon. In order to increase your prospects of a positive outcome, and limit your financial and personal anxiety, it’s advisable to engage the services of an attorney dedicated to the prosecution of auto lemon law in California. Reputable lemon law lawyers will provide a free initial consultation for you to discuss your situation, and then guide and manage all the necessary steps to get you back on the road again.