Here’s a fun question for you. What do Singapore and the U.S.A have in common? Well, they’ve both been colonized by the British, and they both also have a lemon law.
Now, of course, Singapore’s lemon law is quite different from the one in the U.S.A, and even the one in the United States varies from state to state. However, at its core, a lemon law simply refers to a legal remedy available for consumers, particularly in reference to cars and other vehicles.
This article takes a look at the lemon laws in the U.S.A, with emphasis on the laws in California.
California’s Lemon Law
The Song-Beverly Consumer Warranty Act or lemon law was enacted in 1975. The law aims to serve as protection for consumers against fraud, and faulty products sold to them by manufacturers.
The legal remedy allows you a good claim for compensation in case of manufacturing defects that cannot be repaired by the manufacturer.
However, there are some nuances to this law, which we will discuss below.
The Lemon Law Presumption
A lemon law presumption is a list of qualifiers for a given product. In other words, it’s what makes your car a lemon. Here’s a checklist to consider:
- Does your vehicle have a defect?
- Does this defect compromise the use, safety or value of this vehicle?
- Is this covered under your warranty?
- Has the manufacturer attempted to repair or fix the said defect?
- Did these attempts occur for four or more instances, or has the vehicle been held at repairs for thirty days or more?
- Did you cause this defect?
If your car meets the above criteria, congratulations! You officially own a lemon.
Applications for Different Types of Cars and Vehicles
The general rule is that lemon law applies to new cars. However, Californian law is unique in the way it covers a variety of cars. There are variations and limitations depending on whether it’s used, leased or new, but legal remedies are still available.
Warranties protect new cars under the lemon law. If you meet the standard presumptions and have a valid warranty, as described above, you can claim compensation from the manufacturer.
Your used car can be a lemon under some conditions. However, for this to apply you need to receive a formal warranty from the retail seller or dealership you bought it from. It is rare, or nearly impossible to get a warranty from a private party.
However, in some circumstances, you may find that the original warranty is still applicable at the time of noticing the defect.
A leased car usually comes with a warranty that is valid for around 3 years. However, it is important to read through the warranty before signing off, to make sure you’re getting a good deal.
Dealerships generally try to reduce their responsibility as much as possible, and it is advisable to have a lawyer read through your terms of agreement and warranty prior to confirmation.
California’s lemon law doesn’t just apply to cars. If you have a motorcycle, commercial truck, RV, scooter, boat, van or almost any other kind of vehicle, that meets the above criteria, you can still make your claim.
The Rule of Warranty
Warranties have a significant role in determining whether your car is a qualified lemon or not. However, not all warranties are made the same. And in relation to whether your car is new, leased or used, you may have one of the following.
If you buy a brand new car or vehicle, you likely have an express warranty. This type of warranty guarantees problem-free performance within a specified time frame. Here, the dealership promises to fix any defect or problem that may arise during the specified time.
If you have an express warranty, you definitely qualify under lemon law.
An implied warranty is not written but is usually applicable to second-hand or used cars. If you buy from an authorized dealership, you are guaranteed a thirty day implied warranty under Californian law.
This makes you eligible for compensation under the lemon law.
Whether or not lemon law applies to a vehicle under extended warranty depends on its specific terms. If it only allows for free servicing but does not promise that the vehicle is free of defects, then it is disqualified.
However, depending on your circumstances, there might be loopholes.
The Statute of Limitations
Generally, a lemon law claim must be filed within four years. Any claims filed after that will likely be dismissed or invalid.
As an owner, do be sure to keep track of all repairs, warranties and all dates or documents relevant to your vehicle.
Finding a Good Attorney
Before you settle on an attorney, be sure to do your research, read reviews and ask for recommendations from people you trust. You also need to ascertain that they have experience in this field. In California, Bickel Law Firm, William R McGee and Neale Fhima Law Firm are a few that offer specialized services for lemon law claims.
Get in touch with a few firms, schedule consultations and figure out which one works for you.
Is Your Car a Lemon?
Does your vehicle fit the definition of a ‘lemon’ under the Californian lemon law? Does it have a defect that could not be fixed despite several attempts by the dealership?
If so, it’s time to start looking for some legal representation.
Like this article? Then your friends are sure to like it as well. Share this on Facebook or Twitter and start a lemony conversation!
Leave a Reply