The California Lemon Law: What You Should Know

The California Lemon Law is one of the most consumer-friendly lemon laws in the nation. The California Lemon Law was enacted to protect consumers who purchased or leased their new or used vehicle in California with a manufacturer’s warranty when the vehicle has been subject to repeated warranty repairs for the same issue. If your vehicle has been subject to repair 3 or more times for the same problem OR if it has been at the dealership more than 30 days, your vehicle may be a Lemon. If so, the California Lemon Law contains provisions for the payment of attorneys’ fees and costs by the manufacturer, so that you, the consumer, do not have to pay anything to have one of our experienced and knowledgeable attorneys represent you in a claim against the automobile manufacturer!

If your vehicle is determined to be a “lemon,” you are entitled to have your vehicle repurchased by the manufacturer or receive a comparable replacement vehicle at your option. With a vehicle repurchase, you are entitled to recover the return of your down payment or any payment made at lease inception if the vehicle is leased. You are also entitled to recover the value of any trade-in value vehicle, any governmental fees paid, including sales tax, license and registration fees, and you are also entitled to recover all of the monthly payments you have made up to the date of settlement. With all Lemon Law cases, the manufacturer may subtract from your recovery a mileage offset based on the mileage at the first repair for a recurring problem. You may also be entitled to other compensation, including reimbursement for out-of-pocket towing expenses and rental car expenses you paid during your warranty repair visits or any out-of-pocket repair expenses. In addition, the manufacturer must pay off the existing loan or the balance of your lease.

If you elect to receive a comparable replacement vehicle instead of a repurchase, the manufacturer must replace your vehicle with a comparable vehicle. If your Lemon vehicle is financed, the replacement vehicle will be swapped for the Lemon vehicle into your existing financing agreement. This is what is known as a “swap in collateral.” Therefore, any financing on your original vehicle would remain unchanged. You would simply receive a new vehicle with the same equipment in place of your “lemon” vehicle and will pick up making payments on the new vehicle under the original financing agreement. Finally, like a repurchase, the manufacturer is still entitled to seek reimbursement for your use of the vehicle or a charge for your miles driven up to the first repair.

Do I need to hire a lawyer to get the manufacturer to repurchase or replace my vehicle?

Although a consumer may file his or her own claim directly against the automobile manufacturer, we believe that our experience in this area will put you in the best possible position to recover the maximum compensation under the law. Krohn & Moss, Ltd. Consumer Law Center® has handled Lemon Law claims nationwide since 1995. We have successfully resolved over 45,000 Lemon law cases, including over 8,000 in California alone. Further, since the Lemon Law provides for payment of the attorneys’ fees and costs by the manufacturer, you can receive compensation for your “lemon” vehicle at no cost to you! Quite simply, Krohn & Moss, Ltd. Consumer Law Center® will not get an attorneys’ fee unless you win or settle your case. This way, we have as much at stake as you do in getting rid of your lemon vehicle as fast as possible.

How long does it generally take to get compensated?

First and foremost, every case is different and no lawyer should ever tell you how long it will take to resolve your case. Like you, the manufacturer has the right to reject any settlement demand and if they so choose may take your case all the way to trial. From our experience, however, that is very uncommon. In fact, of the cases we have handled since 1995, over 97 percent of them have settled prior to trial. What’s more, we strive to recover compensation for our clients as quickly as possible and we have extensive experience working with all automobile manufacturers and their attorneys. Because of our relationships with the car manufacturers and their attorneys, we often times are able to resolve cases quicker since the manufacturers have knowledge about our level of experience and capability. In that regard, we put forth considerable effort to resolve cases without ever having to file a lawsuit. Should a lawsuit become necessary, we aggressively pursue the case in the particular court where filed so as to get to a resolution as quickly as possible.

Does the manufacturer pay any incidental damages?

In addition to a refund or replacement vehicle, you may also be entitled to other compensation, including reimbursement for out-of-pocket towing expenses, rental car expenses that you paid for during your warranty repair visits and any out-of-pocket repair expenses. The Lemon Law also provides for the recovery of a civil penalty under certain select circumstances where the manufacturer willingly refuses to offer you a refund or replacement vehicle when your vehicle’s repair history meets the requirements under the Lemon Law. If your vehicle’s repair history meets those requirements, a civil penalty may be awarded to you in any amount up to a maximum of two times the price of your vehicle.

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