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Buying a new vehicle is exciting, especially if you’ve spent weeks or more researching, test driving, and envisioning which car or truck would be the best fit for you and your family. With an investment this big, you expect to receive a safe, reliable vehicle that performs as designed. If those expectations are not met, California law offers a degree of protection for consumers in the form of the California Lemon Law.

If you purchase a vehicle that is still covered by the manufacturer’s warranty and then experience problems with the performance, safety, or reliability of the vehicle, you have the right to have the vehicle replaced or repurchased by the manufacturer if the problems can’t be resolved after several repair attempts. This can go a long way toward helping you get your money’s worth. If you have questions about the California Lemon Law or need help filing a claim, reach out to  Lemon Law Attorneys at Neale & Fhima for personalized guidance on the process.

There are some things in life where a bad experience simply has to be accepted. However, buying a car or truck during the warranty coverage period in California is not one of those times. If you spend your hard-earned money on a vehicle that lets you down, you have the right to seek legal recourse to have the matter resolved.

What is the California Lemon Law?

The California Lemon Law is legislation that protects consumers from getting stuck with a vehicle that fails to perform safely or reliably. Buying a car or truck is a significant purchase, and when that purchase doesn’t yield the desired results, the California Lemon Law ensures you can have that vehicle repaired, replaced, or repurchased so you can use those funds to buy another car or truck.

What vehicles are covered under the California Lemon Law?

The California Lemon Law covers vehicles that are still under the manufacturer’s warranty. It doesn’t matter if you bought a brand new car off the lot or a used car; the important qualification is that the age of the vehicle or the miles driven have not removed it from warranty protection.

The law also applies to certain vehicles purchased for business use. If you bought a car or truck for your business and it weights in at less than 10,000 pounds, that vehicle also qualifies for coverage, provided it is still under warranty. In the case of business use, the business must have fewer than five registered vehicles on the books.

What makes a car or truck a “lemon” in California?

All vehicles require occasional repair work, and even newer cars can encounter problems long before the odometer begins to climb. But when a vehicle breaks down multiple times or is unsafe to drive, the protections of the California Lemon Law kick in.

If your vehicle requires repair work on a component that directly affects safe operation, the California Lemon Law protections kick in after the second repair attempt. An example might be brake failure, since the ability to stop safely is critical to preventing injury to the driver, passengers, and others with whom you share the road.

If the repair does not directly impact safe vehicle operation, protection begins after four repair attempts. Examples would be minor electrical issues or problems with door locking mechanisms. No matter what type of repair is needed, if your car or truck spends more than 30 days in the shop, you are entitled to protection under the California Lemon Law. Note that this means 30 days in total, not 30 consecutive days.

What should I do if I suspect my vehicle is a “lemon?”

If you’re having trouble with numerous repairs and worried that your car or truck isn’t going to meet your needs, your first step should be to carefully document all repair attempts. Go through your records to see when you took the vehicle in for repair, and make notes of any continuing issues.

It’s also important to notify the manufacturer if you need to bring your car in for repair. Some manufacturers have a program in place to handle repair work during the warranty period.

The best course of action for anyone purchasing a new vehicle is to create a file to store all documentation. This is where you’ll keep your purchase and warranty information as well as records related to repair work. It’s easy to lose track of how many times you’ve brought a vehicle in for repair, as well as how many days that car or truck was not available for your use. Be sure to take note of any expenses related to car rentals or ride share services you paid for while the vehicle was in for repairs.

Having everything stored in one convenient location makes it easy to sit down and chart out all repair work over a given period of time. Even if your vehicle does not require significant repair, these records can come in handy when you’re ready to schedule annual maintenance or when the time comes to sell the vehicle. The new owner will be relieved to have documentation of all work performed on the vehicle.

You should also consider reaching out to a law firm with skills and experience working with the California Lemon Law.  Lemon Law Attorneys at Neale & Fhima have helped many California consumers get the protection they deserve when an automobile purchase did not work out. They can review the details of your case, advise you on your rights under the law, and handle all of the paperwork needed to move forward with a California Lemon Law claim.