Is your newly purchased vehicle giving you problems? You may have a lemon, according to the law in California. The dealership and manufacturers know the rules and the penalties for failing to follow the law in many situations. The first thing a person should do is find and consult with a California Lemon Law Attorney no matter what stage the person is in dealing with the manufacturers or dealers. An experienced attorney can guide the client through the laws and their options for what steps need to be taken. The client should always deal with the dealership and or the manufacturers before getting an attorney on the case. Most of the time, the dealerships will work with the client. However, this is not always the situation the client finds themselves in with lemons. We can discuss ways to handle the dealership and the bigtime manufacturers throughout this article before, during, and after speaking with your attorney.
Do I Have a Lemon?
Looking into the California laws as to what constitutes a lemon vehicle can help the client understand if they can fight the dealership or manufacturer. If the vehicle has defects that cause the owner to continually send it back and forth from the shop, this is a sign of a lemon. When there is a warranty, the company that sold the vehicle is responsible for all repairs listed in the contract.
Should the owner be the cause of the breakdowns, the warranty may become null and void. This is most likely when the owner of the vehicle will lose the case. If the vehicle’s parts break due to malfunction, more vehicles may be in the lineup to recall the model. There are different angles to look at the situation because each one is unique. There has to be a reasonable number of attempts to repair the vehicle before any legal action occurs. Then and only then will a vehicle become labeled a “lemon.”
Reasonable Number of Attempts to Repair the Vehicle
There is no legal number of attempts for a company to repair a vehicle. All they can do is fix the vehicle and get it in working condition at the time of completion. The owner would have to continue to bring it back for repairs. Possibly after the second attempt with the same parts breaking, the owner can pursue their options with the dealership. The dealership should work with the customer and try another attempt with the manufacturer fully involved to see if they can finalize the situation and solve the problem for good.
It is usually the manufacturer that will not honor a warranty. When this happens, the dealership cannot repair the vehicle because they will not get paid for the parts and labor. They are at the manufacturer’s mercy at this point. If the customer has not gotten with an attorney by this level, they should start looking for someone experienced in the lemon laws.
What Will a Lemon Law Attorney Do?
Most consultations with an attorney are free. They know the laws, and once the potential client tells their story, the attorney will know how to handle the situation. A legal letter is usually the first step to pushing the dealership and manufacturers into complying. It is called a Letter of Demand. Phone calls may occur back and forth after the letter has been received to try and resolve the issue. The client should always document dates, times, and statements made by both parties. This will help the attorney understand the problems faced and work to resolve the issues quicker.
What is in the Letter of Demand?
A majority of cases are resolved right after the Letter of Demand is received. Most companies know when they are defeated in a case before, they fight back. The Letter of Demand will request and have on it the following:
- The state law as it is legally written
- An explanation of the state lemon law where the vehicle is purchased
- The list of defects in the vehicle
- A statement that the client has reached out to get the vehicle fixed. (Note: It does not have to be the same repairs over and over)
- Name and address with the contact information for the client, the attorney, the dealership, and the manufacturer.
- Current issues with the vehicle
- The demand will be how the client wishes to resolve the issue. It can be getting their money back, paying off a loan for the vehicle with reimbursements for any down payments, or getting another vehicle at the same cost.
What Happens After the Letter of Demand is Sent?
There will be a set time for the companies to respond to the Letter of Demand. Some may be 10 days; others may give up to 30 days. It is critical to know the companies will try to push it to the last minute as they are working with their attorneys to see if they can fight a lawsuit. Under no circumstances should the client contact the dealership or the manufacturer once the attorney steps in with the Letter of Demand. It works both ways because the companies should only deal with the attorney or have their attorney handle the situation.
The manufacturers and dealerships may comply if they know they will lose more money in the long run by going to court. They will work to try to resolve the issue immediately if this is the situation. If not, they will let the time limit run out as stated in the Letter of Demand, and the client’s attorney will take it to the next level of litigation.
Some of these cases will land up in court. If this happens with an experienced lemon law attorney, the manufacturers will have to compensate the client and pay the attorney and court costs. Nine out of ten times, the judge will side with the client if the proof is there in black and white.