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Defective Car Parts and California’s “Lemon Law”

LemonAutomobiles that include defective parts can be dangerous and can cause serious accidents, injuring passengers, other drivers, and pedestrians. Such accidents can result in expensive personal injury suits, but it can cost a lot of money to replace a defective car part. Fortunately, California has a lemon law that allows car owners to receive compensation for defective parts.

The Lemon Law

When a defective car part substantially impairs the use, value, or safety of a new car purchased or leased in California, the owner or lessee is often able to receive compensation under California’s Song-Beverly Consumer Warranty Act, more commonly known as the lemon law.

This statute gives automobile manufacturers 18 months or 18,000 miles to attempt repairs on any newly released vehicles. If a vehicle still has at least one of two covered defects within the warranty period, then it can be legally considered a “lemon,” and the owner can receive compensation. California’s lemon law covers:

  • A serious defect that the manufacturer was unable to repair in at least four attempts; or
  • Defects that have caused the vehicle to be out of service for at least 30 cumulative days since it was purchased.

If the car qualifies as a lemon, then the owner of the vehicle has two choices. First, he or she can request that the manufacturer either replace or repair it. If the owner chooses this option, then the manufacturer must also reimburse the owner for sales tax, registration, and incidental damages, such as finance charges or any costs associated with repair, towing, or renting a replacement car.

Alternatively, the owner can request a refund for the original price paid for the car. To be eligible for these options, the person seeking compensation must have purchased or leased the car from someone engaged in the business of manufacturing, selling, leasing, or distributing new vehicles at retail in California. In the case of a lease, the term agreed upon must exceed four months to satisfy the requirements of the lemon law. Finally, the car must be intended for personal, business, or family use.

Owner’s Responsibilities

In order to receive compensation for the defective vehicle, the owner is required to have followed the warranty terms for maintenance and proper use of the car. It is also the responsibility of the owner to bring a suit based on a violation of the lemon law within the four-year statute of limitations. Furthermore, items installed by anyone other than the manufacturer cannot be included in the amount refunded. It is also helpful to maintain good records of any repairs made to the vehicle. Each repair order should show the defect and the dates that the car was in the shop.

Purchasing a vehicle with a defective part can be expensive, time-consuming, and stressful, especially if the defect causes an accident and harms you or others. If you have purchased a vehicle with a defective part and feel that manufacturer may be at fault, please contact the passionate San Jose personal injury attorneys at Corsiglia, McMahon & Allard, L.L.P. for a free consultation.

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