There are few things more frustrating than buying a new or gently used car that does not work properly. Fortunately, the California Lemon Law protects buyers when they purchase a car, SUV, motorcycle, truck or vehicle still under warranty. The vehicle qualifies for a buyback or exchange if the dealer cannot fix the issue after a reasonable number of attempts.
Buyback versus replacement
Those vehicles that qualify for replacement can be handled in two ways by the manufacturer:
- The manufacturer buys back the vehicle.
- The manufacturer replaces the defective vehicle with an identical or similar quality vehicle.
The owner should be able to decide which option is preferable.
Other important details
There may also be additional compensation due to the vehicle’s defect. This can include:
- Towing costs
- Rental car expenses
- Prepayment penalties
- Earned finance charges
- Early termination charges
Also, the new vehicle will have its own applicable warranties. The manufacturer is also obliged to pay the usual expenses of buying a vehicle, including licensing fees, registration, and cover taxes.
Unfortunately, incidental expenses do not include payment for the time spent dealing with the faulty vehicle, nor lost wages if the defective vehicle caused the owner to miss work.
There may be a civil penalty
This applies when there is evidence where the manufacturer intentionally violated the state’s Lemon laws. It could amount to double the actual costs of the damages, which includes the initial cost of the vehicle and any attorney fees. However, the buyer must prove that the manufacturer failed to comply with the law.
Legal guidance often essential
As stated above, the owner needs to hold the manufacturer accountable. These corporations have attorneys and experts at their disposal, so it may be necessary to hire an attorney to defend the owner’s claims and strengthen their case. These legal professionals understand Lemon laws and help ensure that the plaintiff gets the resolution they deserve. There is no out of pocket expense for the legal fees, and the attorney does not get a fee if they do not win the case.