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Can I Demand a Refund Instead of a Replacement Vehicle? 

Law Offices of Kevin Faulk Sept. 16, 2022

If your vehicle is a lemon because the manufacturer cannot fix a warranty defect after a reasonable number of repair attempts, you are probably aware of your right to obtain a replacement vehicle. But can you demand a refund instead of a replacement vehicle?  

The short answer is, “Yes, you can.” California law allows consumers to get a refund or a replacement vehicle if they purchase a defective automobile. However, navigating the lemon law claims process can be tricky.  

If you need a lemon law attorney to assist you with your claim and help you demand a refund instead of a replacement vehicle, contact Law Offices of Kevin Faulk. Our attorney is committed to protecting consumers who deal with “lemons” in Sunnyvale, California, and throughout the state.  

Refund Instead of Replacement Vehicle in California   

If you think you have a lemon, you might be wondering if getting a refund is more beneficial than getting a replacement vehicle. It is up to you to decide if you want to get a refund or a replacement vehicle. Under the lemon law in California, manufacturers are obligated to either refund (buyback) the defective vehicle or offer a replacement vehicle.  

If you opt for a refund, you have to return the defective vehicle to the dealer and receive a refund of the purchase or lease price. When you get a check from the manufacturer, it should include compensation for collateral expenses and costs such as towing fees, registration and license fees, reasonable repair expenses, and many others.  

Reach out to an experienced lemon law attorney to help you calculate a fair refund amount by taking into account all of the expenses and losses that you have incurred.  

How to Calculate the Vehicle’s Value When Getting a Refund 

If you decide to get a refund instead of a replacement vehicle, you will need to calculate the vehicle’s value and the amount of the repurchase. The refund may consist of the following: 

  • The down payment  

  • Monthly payments of the loan balance 

  • Sales tax 

  • Registration and license fees 

  • Repair-related expenses 

  • Towing fees  

  • Rental car costs 

If you lease a vehicle that turns out to be a lemon, you can get a refund consisting of the above-mentioned expenses. However, instead of getting the remaining loan balance paid off, the manufacturer will have to pay for the remaining lease obligations.  

Calculating a refund in a lemon law claim depends on a number of factors. It’s important to seek the assistance of a skilled attorney to determine the potential refund in your specific case.  

Replacement Vehicle Option  

While California’s lemon law allows you to choose a refund, you can also get a comparable new replacement vehicle. A replacement vehicle must meet the following requirements: 

  • The vehicle is substantially identical to the purchased or leased vehicle 

  • The vehicle comes with the identical service contract 

  • The vehicle comes with all factors and dealer options that came with the purchased/leased vehicle 

The replacement vehicle option may not always be available to consumers because the manufacturer may not have a comparable new vehicle to offer as a replacement. Thus, a consumer cannot demand a replacement vehicle if such an option is not offered by the manufacturer. In this case, getting a refund would be the only option for the consumer.  

Keep in mind, though, that manufacturers are not allowed to force a consumer to choose a replacement vehicle option instead of a refund.  

Can You Resolve a Lemon Law Claim Without an Attorney? 

If you think you have a lemon, consider retaining a skilled lemon law attorney instead of resolving a claim on your own. An attorney will guide you through all the intricacies of California’s lemon laws and negotiate with the manufacturer to help you obtain the most favorable deal possible.  

With an attorney, you can be certain you receive everything you are entitled to under the law. Your attorney will help you understand if you can demand a refund instead of a replacement vehicle. And the best part is that you will not have to pay attorney’s fees from your own pocket. California’s lemon law requires manufacturers to cover reasonable attorney’s fees and legal costs incurred by consumers when bringing a lemon law claim against the manufacturer.  

Do You Need to Go to Court to Resolve a Lemon Law Case? 

Not necessarily. According to the California Department of Consumer Affairs, automobile manufacturers may offer a state-certified arbitration program to resolve lemon law disputes as an alternative to litigation. However, if the dispute cannot be resolved through arbitration, your case may go to court.  

Get Trusted Legal Action Today  

If you believe that your purchased or leased vehicle is a lemon, contact a knowledgeable attorney to help you get a replacement vehicle or demand a refund. If you are in Sunnyvale or anywhere else in the state of California, we can help you enforce your rights. Contact our lemon law attorney at Law Offices of Kevin Faulk today to get trusted legal guidance throughout the claims process.