Legal Guide

What Vehicles Can be Lemons?

A lemon is a term for a vehicle that has consistent and unfixable technical issues. Consumers who buy lemons can experience technical issues very soon after they drive the vehicle home. Luckily, California lemon law protects consumers who accidentally acquire lemons.

In addition to the defects associated with lemon, dealers can misrepresent the value of vehicles. Buyers of lemons might end up paying significantly more than the car's worth. Moreover, lemons rarely run well and often break down without prompting or wear and tear.

Besides the awful experience for car owners, the frequent repairs can cause a considerable dent in your finances. Below are some ways to identify a lemon, and you should not hesitate to seek help from a lemon law firm in Los Angeles.

What Qualifies as a Lemon?

In a nutshell, a lemon has some defects that prevent a vehicle from being driven safely on the road. Common issues associated with lemons include faulty brakes, defective engines, or a broken transmission.

Here’s how to classify a lemon using lemon laws:

  • A car with a substantial defect whose repairs are covered by the warranty
  • The defect persists after a reasonable number of repair attempts.

Other issues that don’t affect the safety of vehicles, like paint or broken AC, don’t constitute a lemon.

Qualities of a Lemon

Substantial Defects

New or used cars have substantial defect coverage provided under their warranty by manufacturers or dealers. Moreover, a substantial defect can adversely impact the car’s value, use, or safety. Common features of a vehicle that suffer significant defects include faulty engine, brake system, or suspension.

Minor defects like bent antennae, chipped paint, or loose knob cannot meet the criteria. More importantly, all repairs not covered by the car’s warranty are not part of substantial defects.

A point to note: There is a thin line between substantial and minor defects. Some defects classified as minor can quickly result in catastrophic damage. Interestingly, some defects affect cars later on, leading to recalls.

Reasonable Repair Attempts

You must allow a dealer or manufacturer to make reasonable attempts to fix or repair the car before it is declared a lemon.

Here’s a summary of the standards

  • The car can be declared lemon after one repair attempt in case of a safety defect, for example, the steering system or brakes.
  • The dealer or manufacturer has attempted to repair a less severe defect at least 4 times.
  • The automobile has been out-of-service for at least 30 days due to a repair warranty problem.
  • The defect is not a result of the owner's neglect.

If the vehicle meets the criteria prescribed under lemon laws, the manufacturer or dealer is obliged to:

  • Replace your car, or
  • Process a refund equivalent to the vehicles purchase price

What Can You Do If You Bought a Lemon?

It’s impossible to identify a lemon at the point of purchase. However, strong indicators in the following days include strong smells, a stiff bumper, low oil, damaged seat belts, or a loose steering wheel. Once you note any problems, take appropriate early steps to build a strong claim.

Here’s what you can do:

  • Keep Repair Records: File all the repair records every time you visit dealerships to fix the defects. In addition, print or save all communications with the dealer or manufacturer. The above records and documentation show proof of expenses, pain, or manufacturer liability.
  • Research Related Car Defects: If your car is experiencing persistent problems, research can reveal other car owners with the same predicament. Look up the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration for information that can enhance the chances of your case.
  • File a Claim: Lastly, you can file a claim with the manufacturer. If the manufacturer or dealer denies you a refund or replacement, an attorney can help you escalate the case to court.

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