Automotive Tips

So You Bought a Lemon, Now What?

LemonIt is likely the last thing the owner of a brand new car expects: investing time and money in multiple repairs. Fortunately, the California new car lemon law protects owners of new vehicles with a “lemon law buyback” or voluntary vehicle replacement if a defective vehicle is determined to be a lemon.  But, how do you know when a vehicle is a lemon?

Below, Jiffy Lube of Southern California lists the factors that impact whether or not a vehicle can be considered a lemon under the California lemon law.

  • Purchase place/use: the vehicle must have been purchased in California for personal, family, or business use.
  • Warranty: the vehicle must have been sold with an original manufacturer’s warranty.
  • Type/timing of defect: problem(s) with a vehicle that impair its “use, value, or safety” and occur during the first 18 months or 18,000 miles of ownership.
  • Delayed repairs: a single auto repair that takes more than 30 days unless the circumstances are beyond the manufacturer’s control.
  • Number of repair attempts: defects that are not repaired within a “reasonable number of attempts,” depending upon the defect.

To improve your vehicle’s chances of qualifying as a lemon, it is important to keep records of auto repairs including the time lost from work, length of time the vehicle has spent in the repair shop, and the type of vehicle defect(s).

If your vehicle qualifies as a lemon based on the above criteria, take the steps below to obtain compensation:

  • Mail a certified letter to your vehicle’s manufacturer asking it to buy back your car. Look in your vehicle owner’s manual or manufacturer warranty to find the address and remember to request a return receipt.
  • Consult an attorney with lemon law expertise.
  • Ask for a free arbitration hearing from the manufacturer. Call the California Bureau of Automotive Repair Hotline (800) 952-5210 to request an application and a copy of the manufacturer’s arbitration program regulations.
  • Attend the arbitration hearing in person to accept or reject the arbitration panel’s ruling. If unsatisfied with the results, you have the option of filing a law suit against the manufacturer.

Receiving compensation for a vehicle that turns out to be a lemon is a justifiable deal if you have in fact gotten a vehicle that isn’t delivering on its manufacturer’s commitments. We hope that the above information can help you determine whether or not your new vehicle purchase is a lemon, and give you a course of action if you indeed have. To do your part to minimize the risk of vehicle problems and repairs, we encourage you to schedule regular vehicle maintenance like our Jiffy Lube Signature Service® Oil Change. Keeping your vehicle in good running condition is a sure way to prevent your car to become a lemon down the road. Stay tuned for our upcoming article about dealing with having purchased a used vehicle lemon.

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