Legal Guide

Can You Get a Problematic Vehicle Replaced?

A considerable number of vehicles turn out to be highly problematic, and these are often called “lemons.” Problematic cars can include new or used vehicles acquired from dealers or manufacturers. The typical defects of problematic vehicles include brake failure, automatic transmission failure, engine breakdown, stalling, and more.

California has played its part in alleviating the cost and inconvenience associated with problematic cars using lemon laws. Lemon laws apply to problematic vehicles under warranty that fail to meet the manufacturer’s promised standards after a ‘’reasonable’’ number of repair attempts.

It’s often a just and fair solution for a consumer who acquires a problematic vehicle to get a replacement. If you think you might be eligible for a vehicle replacement, reach out to a lemon law attorney in Anaheim today.    

What Defines a Problematic Vehicle?

Several factors, as prescribed by California lemon laws, define problematic vehicles. First, the vehicle must be purchased or leased within California and issued with a local registration. In addition, the vehicle must be covered by an active express warranty at the time of the claim— apart from exceptional circumstances.

Below are additional ways to define problematic vehicles:

  • There have been at least four attempts to repair the defect in a dealer’s or manufacturer's location.
  • A problematic car has a substantial defect that significantly impacts the vehicle's functionality, safety, and value.
  • Used cars should have clocked less than 18,000 miles and be no older than 18 months.
  • A vehicle is problematic if it has spent more than 30 days—not necessarily continuous— under repair.
  • Two or more unsuccessful repair attempts for a vehicle defect that can cause death or severe injury.

What are Your Options if a Dealer or Manufacturer Can’t Fix a Problematic Vehicle?

Lemon laws in California provide the following possible remedies:

  • Cash settlement that includes attorney fees and costs
  • Replacement of the problematic vehicle
  • Buyback by remitting an equivalent amount of the purchase price

Moreover, the court can order a buyback if the manufacturer willingly violated the California lemon laws.

Lemon Law For Vehicle Replacement in California

A vehicle replacement is where a dealer offers to exchange the problematic car for a substantially identical model. Under lemon law, the replacement should be similar in full extent and purpose to the original car. Unique aspects like the model, make, color or interior should be as close to the original as possible.

In addition, the service contract and warranty specifications should match the previous agreement. A vehicle replacement is a great option compared to a refund, which doesn’t eliminate the risk of acquiring another problematic vehicle.

How to Process the Replacement of a Problematic Vehicle

Step 1: Contact your dealer or manufacturer concerning the repair problem

Step 2: Give the dealer reasonable attempts to resolve the problem.

Step 3: Allow a lemon law attorney to evaluate your case. If you have a lemon, they can inform the dealer or manufacturer that your car falls under the lemon category and you wish to take legal action.

Step 4: Your lawyer can engage the dealer or manufacturer to resolve the issue at this stage. A manufacturer can either offer refund, replacement, or cash settlement. The replacement offer should include related costs like registration, transfer, or rental charges.

Step 5: Take part in the arbitration process. Your lawyer can guide you through the arbitration process if the dealer doesn’t offer to issue a refund, replace the vehicle, or another fair deal. It’s within your right to accept or decline the arbitration decision, which is reached within 40 days.

Step 6: File an action in court. The last step involves court action when arbitration doesn’t yield satisfactory results.

A lemon law attorney can help you review, gather solid evidence, and strengthen your replacement case. Moreover, an attorney can work with you during the arbitration and ensure you’ve met all requirements for the court process.

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