By: Raphael Davis
Edited by: Masih Kazerouni
In today’s market, the purchase of an automobile by the average consumer is one of the most sizable purchases an individual will make. When a consumer makes this type of commitment to a purchase, they have certain expectations in regards to that purchase. They make the purchase believing they have found an automobile that is safe, reliable, and will maintain its’ value. However, what if that is not the case? What options does a consumer have when that automobile fails to meet those expectations during the life of the car?
Song-Beverly Consumer Warranty Act
In California, consumers are protected under the Song-Beverly Consumer Warranty Act, better know as the “Lemon Law” Act, when an automobile fails to meet the reasonable expectation of a consumer. This Act provides that if a manufacturer in California is unable to service or repair a vehicle to conform to the expectations of the warranties made at the time of purchase, after a reasonable number of attempts, the manufacturer must either replace or repurchasethe vehicle and will be responsible for all incidental fees incurred by the consumer, which could include their attorney fees and costs.
Who is Covered Under this Act?
This act covers the purchase or lease of a new or used vehicle that comes with an original manufacturer’s warranty that is still active, bought by a consumer for either personal or family purposes, or primarily for business use in which the business has no more than five vehicles registered to the business in California.
Consumers are defined as individuals who either buy or leasea motor vehicle from a manufacturer. To be eligible under the Act as a lessee, the lease must exceed four months in duration. An individual does not have the be the original purchaser of the vehicle to be covered under the Act so long as the vehicle was transferred to them during the duration of the life of the written warranty.
This Act covers automobiles, trucks, motorcycles, and RVs.
The lemon law protects consumers by covering a vehicles nonconformities, which are a defined as defects in the vehicle that are covered by the manufacture’s written warranty andsuch defect substantially impairs the use, value, or safety of the vehicle to the consumer.
The essentials of the Song-Beverly Act provide that the vehicle is presumed to be a lemon if any of the following occur within the first 18 months or 18,000 miles of ownership:
· Same nonconformity has been subject to repair 4 or more times and the consumer has at least once directly notified the manufacturer.
· Same nonconformity has been subject to repair 2 or more times and is a serious safety defect that may result in death or serious bodily injury and the consumer has at least once directly notified the manufacturer.
· The vehicle has been out for service at the manufacturers repair shop for 30 or more days total since initial delivery of the vehicle of the nonconformity to the manufacturer.
Burden of Proof
The burden of proof lies with the manufacturer if any of the above presumptions are established. This means when a presumption is established, it makes it difficult for the manufacturer to deny that the vehicle is a lemon.
Even if the presumption is not satisfied, you may still have a lemon. For example, an automobile may be outside the 18-month/18,000 mile window, but still may be a lemon, so long as the consumer is able to meet the burden of proof. The consumer must now prove that the vehicle’s defects have substantially impaired the value or safety to the consumer.
As a result, there is no hard and fast rule in regards to what qualifies as a lemon. Each situation has a unique set of circumstances that to the untrained eye may seem unremarkable and not enough to qualify under lemon law. However, hiring an experienced attorney, such as those at Lemon-Aid-Legal, can help you establish that your vehicle in fact may be a lemon.
If you are unsure if you car qualifies as a lemon, we are here to help you. Each situation is unique and we have the experience and knowledge to help guide you through the process.
Give our office a call to receive a free evaluation of your situation and get the recovery you deserve!