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What Happens After Winning Your Lemon Law Case

Law Offices of Kevin Faulk  Nov. 6, 2023

According to the Auto Lemon Index, in California from 2018 to 2021, there were 7.6 million new car registrations, and 34,397 lemon law cases filed, representing 0.45 percent of all new vehicles sold. A lemon is a car that cannot be operated due to one or more safety defects. 

The chances of you ending up with a lemon vehicle are measured by how many cars have to be purchased from a manufacturer before a lemon is sold. Topping the list is General Motors, where every 79th car sold is likely a lemon. At the bottom of the list is Toyota, where 2,029 vehicles must be sold before a lemon is possible. Of course, many cars may be lemons, but their owners may decide not to pursue a lawsuit.

In other words, consumers who purchased GM vehicles were approximately 26 times as likely to file a lemon lawsuit as consumers who purchased Toyotas. The problem is not always in the manufacture or design of a particular automobile, but there are other factors besides vehicle quality.  

One factor is how efficient and knowledgeable the technician and repair personnel are at the dealer. Another is the warranty being offered on the vehicle. Another factor is how promptly and effectively the manufacturer addresses the shortage of qualified automotive technicians and software engineers, as their vehicles become ever more technologically sophisticated. 

If you find yourself with a lemon of a new vehicle in or around Sunnyvale, California, contact us at the Law Offices of Kevin Faulk. We are dedicated to helping resolve mistreatment at the hands of retailers, including auto dealers and the manufacturers of the vehicles they market. From our office in Sunnyvale, we proudly serve clients throughout the Golden State. 

California’s Lemon Law

There is a federal law known as the Magnuson-Moss Warranty Act that protects consumers against anything sold with a warranty, including an automobile. When it comes to vehicles, states also have enacted specific lemon laws.  

California’s lemon law is robust, and it is actually spelled forth in two separate pieces of legislation – the Song-Beverly Consumer Warranty Act and the Tanner Consumer Protection Act. These laws protect you as the consumer if you purchased or leased a new vehicle, and it’s defective and cannot be repaired after a reasonable number of attempts. 

The laws do not define a reasonable number of attempts, and the number required to be unreasonable can vary widely depending on the specifics of the situation. Experienced litigators will help you understand if your vehicle is a lemon. Another situation that can trigger a lemon law claim is if the vehicle has been out of service for repairs for 30 or more days, which do not have to be consecutive. 

However, to launch a lemon law claim or lawsuit, you must have acquired the vehicle here. In addition, the vehicle must have a written new vehicle warranty.   

Do I Need to File a Lawsuit Over My Lemon?

The manufacturer is obliged under California’s lemon law to either refund your purchase price or replace your vehicle. Manufacturers, however, often have warranty clauses requiring you to submit to mediation or arbitration to resolve the issue. You should have an attorney assist you in understanding whether you have to participate in one of these processes.  

Before going into one of these meetings, you should gather all the evidence to prove your case. In other words, when you first discovered the problem, you should have begun assembling all the receipts and other paperwork from the repeated repair attempts. You need to have notes of everything that happened and that was said to you regarding the repair issue. A lemon law attorney can certainly help you with preparing this documentation. 

Two Options If You Win Your Case 

If you win your case in court, you can opt for either a replacement of equal value or a cash refund. In either case, depending on the “mileage attributable to consumer use,” the manufacturer/dealer may be entitled to a monetary offset for your use of the car under applicable law in California, prior to the first repair visit. This is referred to as “offset for use.” 

If you choose a replacement vehicle, it does not have to be the same make and model, but its MSRP (manufacturer’s suggested retail price) must correspond. The automaker is also responsible for sales tax and license and registration fees. It is rarely a good idea to elect to replace your vehicle.

Staying Informed and Protected

If you believe you have purchased or leased a new vehicle that is a lemon anywhere in California, contact us at the Law Offices of Kevin Faulk. We will advise and guide you through the process of using California’s lemon law to seek a replacement or refund under the warranty. If you need to file a lawsuit, we will handle that as well.