Car Lemon Law: What Happens When You Find Out Your Car is a Lemon

How unpleasant is the feeling when you have a car lemon law. When you are full of excitement and pride and cannot wait to show your new car to everybody, of course, it is no fun having a lemon car.

The Happy news is that the California lemon law statute is amongst the strongest in the country.  The California lemon law guards against substantial defects that occur to your vehicle within a specified period after purchase. The manufacturer must either replace the product with a new one or refund the full purchase price if a product is defective.

Lemon car

It can happen when you approach the red light and the car stalls for example. Normally you restart the engine and keep heading to your destination. And when the same happens a week later you grow concerned. Then you schedule an appointment at the dealership. The mechanic checks out the car and cannot find any problem. You just leave and keep driving the car until the stalling happens again and again. Once again you make the appointment and bring the car to the dealer. And once again they tell you that nothing is wrong with your car. What should your steps be?

So you still have the same problem after numerous attempts to repair your car? This is when you may be justified in asking the manufacturer to either replace or refund the purchase price. Let us say if the same problem has been serviced 4 or more times within the warranty period the car could qualify as a lemon (of course, when the defect was not corrected). Also note that if a defect is safety related, the manufacturer is usually allowed a single instance to correct the problem.

Usually, lemon laws cover mainly substantial defects. This means defects that significantly impair the use, value, or safety of the vehicle. Let us say your vehicle is out of service for a certain number of days due to defective manufacturing. This is also a car lemon law case. Depending on the state of purchase the number of days a vehicle is out of service ranges from 15 to 40 days.  In case your car has cosmetic flaws, odd noises or an uncomfortable ride note that these are not considered substantial defects.


Remember that your car must be under warranty (this concerns the newly bought cars of course). Just make sure you find out the length of your warranty and then report any malfunctions of the vehicle to the dealer as soon as possible.  It is not a good idea to wait too long before taking your car to the dealer for repair. If your car goes out of warranty, you can forget about lemon law.

4 Attempted repairs

Normally after finding out that the car is defective, you must give the dealer at least 4 chances to fix the car. When they do not manage to fix your car then you can start the lemon law process. You meet the lemon law criteria only because you have taken your car in 4 times. Also important to note that you cannot take it to just any repair shop, you only must take it to the authorized dealer from where you purchased your vehicle.

30 Days of inoperability

If you were not able to use your car for at least 30 days then you have an inoperable use. It can be consecutive or non-consecutive. This also means you meet the lemon law criteria. This is the period of time when the dealer will make attempts to alleviate the issue.

A complaint letter

After buying a car you want that it spends most of the time on the road, not at the mechanic’s place. There are qualified attorneys that specialize in lemon law cases. They can definitely help you to protect your rights. If you suspect that you have a car lemon law, immediately turn to your attorney and send a written complaint to the vehicle’s manufacturer.

A used car

When you are buying a used car you should be aware that you are most likely to face much more problems than with a new one. First of all, take care to get vehicle history report from the owner when purchasing a used car. Second also very important to have a qualified mechanic put the car on a lift to look for signs of structural damage. Of course, it is better to do this before you purchase a used car. It can still provide valuable information if you have it done after purchasing.

Do your best to determine the source of the vehicle’s problem after you own it. Obviously, it is more common for used car buyers to get stuck with an unreliable vehicle. They also have larger repair bills than purchasers of new vehicles. Note that normally if the car exhibits problems during the warranty period, the dealer has a chance to repair them. If he does not manage to fix it after several attempts, he must either replace the car or refund the buyer’s money.

Facing car lemon law is not the most pleasant thing as already mentioned. But, if you have an experienced attorney, he will help you to come out of that situation with reimbursement or a new car. So just make sure to turn to the right company and they will help to solve your problems. Stay positive and good luck.


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