Lemon Law FAQs

Choose a question below:

How much do I have to pay you guys?

  1. Your document and case review is almost always at no charge.
  2. If we take the case the laws that we use almost always call for the “bad guy” to pay our fees. So, you pay NO LEGAL FEES out of pocket.
  3. Please beware of firms that require you to pay a “retainer fee” or an “hourly fee” for a Lemon Law claim. That attorney is not likely well trained in the field of lemon law.

 

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What if I Lose My Case?

Absent extremely rare exceptions, if we get you no recovery you do owe us no attorney fees.

 

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What is a Lemon?

In English: a “Lemon” is ANY consumer product purchased at retail, that comes with a warranty (usually something in writing), costs more than $25.00, has significant problems and the folks that give the warranty are unable or unwilling to fix it within a fair number of tries.

In Legalese: a “Lemon” is any consumer product purchased at retail, that comes with an express warranty, costs more than $25.00, has one or more substantial non-conformities affecting the use, value or safety, where the warrantor has been unable or unwilling to make it conform within a reasonable number of attempts.

Under the Federal Magnuson Moss Act: a Lemon is any product that could be used for a consumer purpose that comes with a written warranty, costs more than $25.00, has one or more substantial non-conformities affecting the use, value or safety and the warrantor has been unable or unwilling to make it conform within a reasonable number of attempts.

 

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How does this process work?

There is no “one size fits all” in lemon law. Once you contact an attorney we know that you are already at your patience limit. Sometimes we can settle a case with a demand letter in just a week or two and your nightmare is over. Sometimes we need to go right to court to save time where a demand letter simply will not do.

No two lawsuits are identical, but the warrantors who’ve pushed us to trial have all lost, to date.


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What if the Lemon Law does not apply to my case?

Many of the so-called lemon law experts are “one trick ponies.” If your case fits into their easy mold, they’ll take it. Otherwise, they kick you out the door. Our firm teaches other lawyers in California and throughout the United States how to practice lemon law. We are always finding new ways to get you coverage under the lemon law OR under some of the other consumer protection law, so we can get you the legal relief you deserve.

Some of the of the other consumer protection laws out there that we can use include:

The Magnuson-Moss Warranty Act (Federal Lemon Law) which is a slight twist on the CA law. Link here:  Magnuson Moss Warranty Act 

The Consumer Legal Remedies Act which we like to call “Fraud light.” The CLRA protects consumers against unfair and deceptive acts and practices, based largely on misrepresentations. Its main purpose is to make fraud cases easier to prove. If you received a product that is significantly different than the one you thought they were purchasing, or did not receive the product at all, that law should apply. Link to the statute here: The CLRA 

Basic Contract Law under California’s Commercial Code: Using these laws we can force a seller or a manufacturer to live up to their end of the contract. Link to the CA Commercial Code here:  CA Commercial Code Sections

Automobile Sales Finance Act: This law requires Dealers to correctly fill out all paperwork related to the sale of a car and to properly disclose all terms of the sale. If the paperwork is improperly filled out or they purposely cheat you using the paperwork, you are entitled to very strong protections under this law. Link to ASFA here:  Automobile Sales Finance Act.

Rosenthal Fair Debt Collection Act: If a seller or creditor is trying to collect monies from you wrongfully, they may have to pay a statutory fine of no less than $100.00 and no more than $1,000.00 per occurrence. The same offender may have to pay your costs of court and attorney fees, so, this law can potentially put a stiff hurt into the bad guy quickly. Link to RFDCPA here: Rosenthal Fair Debt Collection Act

 

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Isn’t it quicker and cheaper to do this myself?

Doing it yourself is almost never the way to go. You may have experienced already, what feels like “stonewalling” or plenty of talk but no action. After hearing “there is no problem” or “it’s fixed” or “we are gong to fly in a factory expert from Detroit or Germany” or we can take the car back as a “trade in” many times, a certain percentage of people just give up, trade in their lemons, or sell their vehicles to other unlucky consumers.

On the rare occasion when a dealer or a manufacturer agrees to replace your vehicle or to give you a refund, they always seem to find a way to give you the shaft. Sometimes they will give you thousands of dollars less than you are entitled to under the law.

Since consumer protection laws require the “bad guy” to pay your attorney and those fees do not generally come from your recovery, using a firm like ours will likely save you time, hassle and a LOT of $$$.

 

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I have a “Certified” used car, is it covered?
Yes. It’s a consumer product purchased at retail with a warranty. In fact, a certified used car usually has a warranty from the seller AND from the manufacturer, so, you get two potential defendants who may well point fingers at each other.

The certified used car is rarely any different than a run of the mill used car, but, the dealer will check some 100 or more “points” off on a checklist and pay at least $1,500.00 and often more to the manufacturer for the right to put the car into this program and will pass that charge (and more) on to you, the consumer.

Basically, it’s just a marketing scheme, allowing the manufacturers and dealers to make you “feel” like this car is “special” but frankly, they’ve just added a service contract (often called an extended warranty) to it and charged you more for the pleasure. In most cases it’s a lot cheaper to just have the vehicle inspected by a local mechanic (for about $100.00) before you buy it. See link about this here: Inspect don’t Certify – Money Magazine Article

 

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Does the lemon law apply to used cars?
Yes, in CA they do! If the vehicle came with a warranty or a service contract you may have protection under the lemon law or some other consumer protection law. Also, a new law going into effect January 1, 2013 in CA will make all vehicles sold by smaller buy here pay here (BHPH) lots carry a minimum 30 day warranty. This will help a lot of consumers who are most needy and who have been regularly ripped off in the sub-prime vehicle buying segment.

 

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My car is from a Buy Here Pay Here (BHPH) lot. Can I get help?

There is a new law going into effect January 1, 2013 in CA. The law will require all vehicles sold by these BHPH lots to give a minimum 30 day warranty. This will help a lot of consumers who are most needy and who have been regularly ripped off in the sub-prime vehicle buying segment.

 

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My vehicle is owned by my business. Can I get help?

If your vehicle is a business vehicle, there are many possibilities of coverage and protection available to you in CA. The California lemon law covers a small business that has less than five (5) vehicles registered to it if the vehicle has a gross vehicle weight under 10,000 pounds. Also, the Magnuson Moss Federal Warranty Act does not differentiate between protection for consumers or businesses, so, that law gives you coverage AND the law of contract generally may cover you. If you have a lemon vehicle that is related to your business do not hesitate to contact us for potential representation.

 

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I have an extended warranty, can I get help?

did you know the typical “extended warranty” is not a warranty at all, but, a “service contract?” Still, even a short service contract of 30 days or more may help you get coverage under the CA or FED lemon laws. If a dealer sells you a “service contract” an “implied warranty of merchantability” may well attach and if so, that dealer could be on the hook under the lemon law. If the dealer uses the word warranty or it is written somewhere in the sale documents, you have an express or a written warranty and you should have lemon law protection.

Be sure to know what your “extended warranty” covers and does not cover. If it is breached, then you may have some alternative protection(s).

 

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What can I expect in trying to get rid of my Lemon?

First and foremost, expect a lot of resistance. Any car salesperson will tell you, “You can replace the car, but, not the customer.” These businesses do not stay in business by buying back cars.

Should the manufacturer decide they prefer a negotiated settlement, you may expect:

  1. A “buyback” or a “repurchase” of your Lemon. This is usually handled locally and if your case is considered a strong one by the manufacturer, it may occur within 2-4 weeks of your original call to this office.
  2. A replacement vehicle. This is also handled locally but, it is highly discouraged, since you do not want to be in another lemon car AND it may take a long time to fine the vehicle you want with the right options, color scheme, year or other specifications.
  3. A cash settlement. Some Lemon Law cases are borderline and may just be worth a nuisance settlement with the manufacturer. Those few cases may be settled for a partial refund of the original purchase price. The owner may then keep or sell or trade the vehicle as s/he sees fit. This option does tend to lessen the pain of selling an older vehicle and may allow you to do so at a lower than market price.

 

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If they buy back my Lemon, what can I expect?
On a new motor vehicle, you are entitled to get back:

  1. All Monies you paid like down payment and payments made, less a “statutory” mileage offset, related to the number of “trouble free” miles you put on the vehicle PRIOR to the initial problem(s) creeping up;
  2. You may also be entitled to some related expenses like tax, title, registration, reasonable repairs, and/or towing reimbursement;
  3. Also, the bad guy should pay off any outstanding loan/lease amounts;
  4. You are entitled to the cost of filing a lawsuit (currently $435.00 in CA);
  5. You are also entitled to have your attorney’s reasonable fees paid by the bad guy.