Do I Have a Lemon?

If a repeated issue is making your vehicle unreliable or even unsafe to drive, you may have a lemon.

A car is considered a “lemon” when it shows defects that impact its use, safety or value. Luckily, federal and state lemon laws afford remedies for owners of these defective cars, and the state of California offers one of the strongest lemon laws in the nation.

State and Federal
Lemon Laws

The federal lemon law, known as the Magnuson-Moss Warranty Act, requires the auto manufacturer to replace your defective vehicle. However, the California Lemon Law offers much broader protections. Known as the Song-Beverly Consumer Warranty Act, this state lemon law requires the automaker to replace or buy back your vehicle if the defects do not disappear after a “reasonable” number of repair attempts.

CALIFORNIA LEMON LAW

REMEDIES INCLUDE:

Return your vehicle and get your
money back

Replace your vehicle

Receive cash compensation

There is no set number that constitutes “reasonable” under the California Lemon Law. This is judged on a case-by-case basis. However, the California Lemon Law requires that your car has been bought or leased from a manufacturer or dealership in California and be primarily for personal use.

The law grants exceptions to active members of the military. Active members can benefit from the California Lemon Law if they either bought or leased vehicles from licensed dealerships in California before being stationed elsewhere in the United States, or if they bought or leased vehicles from licensed dealerships elsewhere in the U.S. and are now stationed in California.

Vehicles used for business are only protected if each vehicle is equal to or under 10,000 pounds and the business registers no more than five vehicles in California.

Lemons from different manufacturers often have similar and overlapping defects, or nonconformities to the warranties. Some symptoms common in lemons arise in the engine, transmission, electric components, steering, brakes, suspension, HVAC and safety restraints systems. Examples include oil leaks, loss of power, broken brakes and locking steering wheels.

If your vehicle experiences any of these symptoms, you may have a claim. It is best to consult an attorney about the eligibility of your lemon law case.

How Buybacks Work

A buyback is calculated by determining the total amount paid or payable to the vehicle and subtracting the mileage offset from the total amount. This may include taxes, registration, down payments, monthly payments and finance charges.

An automaker may try to minimize the amount they owe you by disputing your mileage offset. Usually, this is done by claiming that your first defect-related repair took place at a later date and previously recorded repairs were for unrelated issues.

Our attorneys at Knight Law Group can help you push back against this tactic and get you the buyback you deserve.

How to Calculate
Your Mileage Offset

Take the total amount you paid for your car – including taxes, registration and other expenses.

Multiply it by the number of "good miles" before your car first showed defects, or before your first defect-related repair.

Divide this amount by 120,000 miles – the vehicle lifetime listed under California Lemon Law.

Subtract your calculated mileage offset from the total amount paid/payable to estimate your lemon buyback amount.