A car is one of the most expensive assets you will ever own, so it’s a huge disappointment when your new ride keeps breaking down no matter how many times you take it into the shop. If you have recently purchased or leased a vehicle through a dealership, you may be wondering how old your can be in order to qualify for a lemon claim in California. That’s the topic we will explore in this article, along with related information that can help you understand your legal rights.
Our team of experienced lemon law attorneys is here to assist you if you have found yourself with a lemon on your hands. Depending on where you are in the claims process, you have probably discovered that car manufacturers do not make it easy for consumers to obtain the funds they are owed. Let us fight for you and the settlement you deserve. Contact our office to schedule a free case evaluation.
How Old can a Car be in order to Classify as a Lemon?
This is a complicated question to answer, but if you’ve done some research, you may have reached the conclusion that the lemon law only applies during the first 18 months after purchase, or up to 18,000 miles (whichever date comes first). This is true in most cases, but there are exceptions depending on the warranty from the manufacturer or dealership. Cases can be made on the basis that you are covered for the length of the warranty, which may extend beyond 18 months or 18,000 miles.
On the other hand, your time limit to qualify for a lemon claim will be shorter if you bought your car from a “buy here, pay here” dealership. California laws require these places to supply a warranty, but the coverage may only be for 30 days or the first 1,000 miles. As with manufacturer warranties, the deadline is based on whichever comes first, and if you have a lot of driving to do on a daily basis, it won’t take long to hit 1,000 miles.
That’s why it’s important to act immediately if you start to notice problems with your car. Call us right away for advice on how to proceed if you suspect that your car is a lemon.
Other Requirements that must be met for a California Lemon Claim
Your vehicle’s age or mileage is not the only condition that must be met in order to seek protection under the lemon law. To be classified as a lemon, your car must meet the following requirements:
- The car must have been purchased from a dealership or the manufacturer, and not from a private seller.
- The unresolved defect must be covered under an active warranty.
- You must be using the car for personal or family use, or for a business with no more than 5 cars registered in its name.
- The defect must be serious enough to substantially impair the vehicle’s usage, safety, or value.
- The manufacturer had 4 or more attempts to fix the problem. If the defect affects the safety of those on board (issues with the brakes or airbags, for example), they have no more than 2 attempts to fix the defect.
- The vehicle has spent a total of 30 days or more in the repair shop (days do not need to be consecutive).
If you can answer yes to all these requirements, you have a good foundation for compensation under the state’s lemon law. However, there may be other conditions that apply to your situation, so please take some time to discuss your case with a lemon lawyer at our office.
What am I Entitled to if my Car is a Lemon?
If you are able to prove that your car is a lemon, the manufacturer must offer you a full refund or a replacement vehicle of comparable value. A refund includes the contract price of the vehicle, plus incidental fees like sales tax, registration fees, and financing costs. You can also be reimbursed for out of pocket expenses, like towing fees and money spent on rideshare services while your car was out of order.
Be aware that the manufacturer can deduct a “mileage offset” for your usage of the car before its use or safety was compromised. This is determined by multiplying your purchase price by the number of miles on the car when you first brought it in for repairs. That figure is divided by 120,000. Thus, if you paid $15,000 for a car and drove it 12,000 miles before the first repair attempt, the mileage offset would be $1,500. However, this formula generally applies to new vehicles, so if you bought a used car, a different formula may need to be used. Manufacturers will, of course, try to maximize the offset they can deduct in order to save themselves money. One of our attorneys can represent your interests and make sure that you are not taken advantage of as the owner of a used lemon.
What is my Lemon Law Case worth?
Many lemon owners that contact us are curious about the average value of a lemon claim. However, each case depends on factors like the purchase price and your out of pocket expenses. Thus, a lemon settlement or verdict may be as low as $15,000 or as high as $150,000. Higher case values are often associated with civil penalty payments, which the manufacturer may be ordered to pay if they willfully violated the state’s lemon law. These payments can be double the amount of your monetary damages. So, if your settlement value is $35,000 and you are awarded a civil penalty, you could receive an additional $70,000, which brings your total payment to $105,000.
These are not the only elements that will determine the value of your case, but it gives you an idea of the compensation you may be entitled to. For an approximate value of your own lemon claim, contact us at your earliest convenience.
How long do I have to File a Lemon Lawsuit?
In California, the statute of limitations on lemon lawsuits is 4 years, starting from when you first noticed the defect with your car. Even though you have four years, keep in mind that you will need substantial evidence to succeed in one of these cases. Evidence can be lost or destroyed over the years, so you are not doing yourself any favors by waiting to take legal action. If you miss the 4-year timeline to file a lawsuit, the courts will most likely forbid you from seeking compensation from the manufacturer. Don’t lose out on the payment you deserve; call us today and get started on a California lemon claim.
What is the Average Timeline to Settle one of these Cases?
Like case values, there is no average amount of time that we can apply to the settlement process for a lemon case. At our office, we’ve handled claims that were settled in about 30 days, while others took over a year. It’s our goal to fight aggressively for your rights and recover your damages within 3 to 6 months. But some cases, like those involving accidents, have many complications that will take weeks or months to resolve. No matter how long it takes to bring you justice, we are available any time you need us. You will not be left in the dark, wondering what’s going on with your case or if we’ve forgotten about you.
Help – I need a Second Opinion on my Existing Lemon Claim!
Speaking of being in the dark, is that how you feel when you think about your current attorney? If you have a pending lemon case with another law firm, you may have questions or concerns that are not being addressed by your lawyer. We are happy to review your case and offer a second opinion on your rights and legal options. Whether you need advice or want to switch your lawyer to someone at our law firm, we can help you choose the best course of action for your needs. A second opinion is just a phone call away, so contact our office as soon as you can.
Representation from an Experienced Lemon Law Attorney
Are you in need of strong and effective representation in a California lemon case? If so, the lemon lawyers of Guardian are ready to assist you. We’ve recovered millions of dollars on behalf of lemon claimants just like you, so you can count on us to win your case. While we fight to bring you justice, you won’t pay us a dime in legal fees. The manufacturer will be covering our expenses, and that’s only if we recover your settlement award.
Our attorneys look forward to speaking with you during a free one-on-one consultation.