Used Car Lemon Law in California

used car lemon law attorney

Fortunately, California’s Song Beverly Consumer Warranty Act, also known as the California lemon law, protects consumers who have purchased used, pre-owned, and leased vehicles. If you find yourself in a situation with a defective car that has had more than one owner, there may be hope for you under California’s lemon law. 

There are certain conditions a vehicle has to meet in order to qualify as a used lemon.  An experienced lemon law attorney can help you figure out whether your car qualifies under the California lemon law and can also help you navigate through the complex legal process toward potential victory against a car manufacturer. 

How does California Lemon Law Apply to Used Cars?

California’s Song Beverly Consumer Warranty Act affords protection to buyers of new and pre-owned motor vehicles. For a used car to be eligible, it must at least meet the following criteria:

1) The vehicle’s problem occurred during the original warranty period or extended pre-owned certified vehicle warranty.

2) The vehicle was purchased at retail and not through a private sale.

3) The car manufacturer attempted to repair the issue a reasonable number of times.

If the consumer wins his or her lemon law claim, the vehicle manufacturer is obligated to provide a replacement vehicle or repurchase it back from the owner, plus the vehicle manufacturer must pay off the vehicle’s loan or lease balance and pay any incidental damages to the consumer, if any. 

Does Your Vehicle Qualify for a Lemon Law Claim?

Whether or not a vehicle qualifies as a lemon under the Song Beverly Consumer Warranty Act depends on the criteria mentioned above and whether the defect substantially affects the safety, use, and/or value of the vehicle, and the vehicle is covered by the vehicle basic warranty, power train warranty, or any other warranty provided originally by the vehicle manufacturer.

For example,  if the car’s transmission has been replaced two times, this may be a problem substantial enough to qualify under the lemon law. Another issue could be that a vehicle overheats easily or uses more gas than the vehicle manufacturer states or warrants in its written warranty. 

A lemon law claim is, in essence, a breach of the vehicle manufacturer’s express warranties, which represents a violation of the car manufacturer’s contractual obligations to the California consumer. 

Whenever a consumer purchases a car, whether new or used, and the vehicle is still under the vehicle manufacturer’s original warranties, the manufacturer provides the consumer with certain guarantees about the vehicle’s performance. If a vehicle does not perform as stated in the vehicle manufacturer’s express warranties or vehicle manufacturer’s guarantees or  “promises,” the vehicle manufacturer may be in breach of the vehicle’s warranties if other criteria are met. 

What Types of Vehicles are Covered?

To be protected under the California lemon law, used cars must still be covered under the vehicle manufacturer’s original warranty or warranties, or the problem must have occurred under the vehicle manufacturer’s original warranties, either basic warranty, power train, or another vehicle manufacturer’s originally provided warranty, and the vehicle must have been bought at retail. 

The vehicle warranty may apply to an extended vehicle warranty provided by the dealership, as long as the extended vehicle warranty is not just a “service warranty.” A true extended warranty for the purposes of the California lemon law is generally one that would usually carry the words “certified pre-owned” and that is backed by the vehicle manufacturer. 

A qualifying vehicle must weigh under 10,000 pounds, be for “personal, family, or household purposes,” or for business purposes “by a person, including a partnership, a limited liability company, corporation, association, or any other legal entity, to which not more than five motor vehicles are registered in California.” Song Beverly Consumer Warranty Act. 

Steps to Take Before Filing a Lemon Law Claim

The most critical evidence for a car dispute is the vehicle’s work repair order, followed by proof of ownership. Proof of ownership is necessary because it can verify whether or not you still own the vehicle in question and whether you bought it at retail. The vehicle’s work repair orders are important because they are evidence that you took the vehicle to be repaired to a vehicle manufacturer-approved service center, hopefully, a reasonable number of times. 

Additional documentation that would strengthen a consumer case is material like photos, video, and any written notes or journals about conversations that took place with the service staff or any other relevant individuals. 

Exemptions for Members of the Military

Members of the military enjoy special privileges under the Song Beverly Consumer Warranty Act, which also applies to used cars. Under Military Lemon Law, a member of any of the U.S. military branches can file for a breach of vehicle warranty claim even if they purchased a vehicle in another state as long as they were a California resident or stationed in California at the time of filing the lemon law claim, or at the time the member purchased or leased the vehicle. 

Why should I Hire an Attorney to Represent me in a Used Car Lemon Law Case?

The law is complex and full of loopholes that the manufacturer can use to deny a claim. For this reason, it’s essential to have a lemon law attorney on your side who understands how these laws work and who has successfully handled lemon law cases matters. 

It is seldom a good idea to try to negotiate a lemon law claim by yourself, especially when the Song Beverly Consumer Warranty Act provides for attorneys’ cost and fees be paid by the vehicle manufacturer if the consumer prevails, and when a consumer can get a free consultation from an attorney who has handled these types of matters before.

A California used car lemon law attorney will be able to help you understand how these laws work, negotiate on your behalf, and represent you through the lemon law process. As mentioned, California’s Song Beverly Consumer Warranty Act provides that a car manufacturer is responsible for your attorney fees costs if you prevail on your lemon law matter. 

Rodriguez v. FCA US, LLC, 77 Cal.App.5th 209

Recently, a California Court of Appeal held that “[B]ased on all of these textual reasons, we conclude the phrase ‘other motor vehicle sold with a manufacturer’s new car warranty’ unambiguously refers to cars that come with a new or full express warranty.” Rodriguez v. FCA US, LLC, 77 Cal.App.5th 209.

Given this recent California Court of Appeal ruling, it is extremely important, now more than ever, for California consumers to contact a knowledgeable California lemon law attorney before embarking alone on a quest against the vehicle manufacturer to repurchase their vehicle to try to get a refund for their lemon.

About Attorney Luis Aguirre

Attorney Luis Aguirre has devoted much of his legal career to defending consumers who purchased used car lemons. When you hire attorney Luis Aguirre, you get an attorney with lemon law legal experience and a unique perspective on how car manufacturers defend themselves against lemon law claims brought on by people like you. 

Before becoming an attorney, attorney Luis Aguirre worked on the legal team whose sole purpose was to defend a major U.S. car manufacturer against lemon law claims. Thus, attorney Luis Aguirre is keenly aware of how these vehicle corporate giants use the legal system to defend themselves against lemon law claims brought by consumers like you. Today, as an attorney working on behalf of the consumer, attorney Luis Aguirre uses this knowledge and expertise to help the consumer. 

Lawyer and Military Veteran Working on your Behalf

Luis Aguirre served his country honorably both on the active and reserve components of the U.S. Coast Guard for 12 years. When you hire attorney Luis Aguirre, you hire representation from an attorney who will work on your matter with military precision, defend you fiercely, and keep in constant communication regarding the status of your lemon law matter. With attorney Luis Aguirre as your used car lemon law lawyer by your side, you can feel confident that you have a competent lemon law attorney that will defend you against the giant car manufacturers. 

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Luis Aguirre California Lemon Law Attorney 26060 Acero Suite 111
Mission Viejo, CA 92691 Telephone: 949.342.6199.

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    The information on this posting is for general information and/or educational purposes only and should not be construed as legal advice or a guarantee on the outcome of a particular case. This publication may contain dramatization. This posting is intended for California consumers only. This posting is considered advertisement by Luis Aguirre Law, who is also responsible for its content. Viewing, reading, or receiving the information on this posting does not create an attorney-client relationship. We are not your attorneys until you sign a written contract with Luis Aguirre Law, and the contract is fully executed (signed by attorney). Although information on this posting is deemed accurate, information on this posting should not be acted or relied upon without first conducting an independent investigation and/or obtaining qualified legal counsel, or you do so at your own risk. Attorney is licensed in the state of California only. Attorney Luis Aguirre is bilingual and also speaks Spanish and will provide help in Spanish if you request it. Although attorney limits his practice to the particular field of breach of contract – lemon law, attorney is not a certified specialist in this particular field or any other field of law. See “Our Policies” tab for further details regarding our Privacy Policy, Disclaimer, and Attorney’s Fees. 

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