What Kinds Of Damages Are Available If Your Vehicle Is Deemed To Be A Lemon?

Lemon law compensation option in California: lemon law buyback, lemon law replacement, or lemon law cash-and-keep

In my lemon law practice, the most common question clients ask is: “What can I get if I can prove my car is a lemon?” When your vehicle has a  substantial defects or a non-conformity, and the dealership can’t fix it under the express warranties, you have important legal rights in California. So don’t let your dream of car ownership turn into a nightmare – read on to find out what your rights are under lemon law. 

In this blog post, I will provide an overview of the potential compensation available under California’s lemon law, such as the Song-Beverly Warranty Act and the Tanner Consumer Protection Act. Whenever you are trying to lemon your defective car, it is important to understand your legal options so you can make informed decisions. 

In California, a car that has a defect that substantially impairs its use, value, or safety and that cannot be fixed after a reasonable number of repair attempts may be deemed a lemon. Car with engine problems, transmission issues, electrical faults, or other serious mechanical problems that affect the car’s performance have been found to be a lemon. Lemon law is not limited to cars, it covers all types of vehicle such as: motorcycles, recreational vehicles or RVs, boats, trucks, vans, buses, and any other type of vehicle that is sold with a manufacturer’s warranty. 

Once a vehicle is found to be a lemon, the law provides a number of compensations to the owner. These include refund for the vehicle by repurchasing it back, replacing the vehicle with a comparable one, or in some cases providing a cash settlement to the owner. The type of recovery you can expect will depend on a number of factors, including the age of the car, the number of repair attempts that have been made, and the severity of the defect. Let’s get into more detail about each of your options under lemon law.

Refund for Your Lemon Car

California Lemon Law requires the manufacturer to buy back the defective car at the full purchase price. There is an allowance for use, which is a deduction for the mileage that you have put on the car. The allowance for use is calculated based on the vehicle’s mileage at the time the defect was first reported. 

You are also entitled to get your money for the down payment, monthly payments, registration fees, taxes, finance charges, reasonable repair charges, towing, rental car costs, and other incidental damages related to the lemon car. This is the most attractive option to consumers since they give the vehicle back and get a refund.

Replacement of The Defective Vehicle

The second option under California Lemon Law is for a car manufacturer to replace your lemon car with a new one of comparable value. The replacement car doesn’t have to be brand new, although it could be – it just has to be comparable in price and features to your original vehicle. 

The manufacturer must also pay for all taxes, registration fees, and other charges related to the replacement vehicle. Manufacturers often don’t like this option because finding a comparable vehicle can be expensive or extremely difficult. I

It is also worth mentioning that you, the consumer, has the option to pick either a refund or a replacement under lemon law. The manufacturer cannot force you to pick either of the options. 

Cash-and-Keep Settlement

In some lemon law cases, instead of a replacement or repurchase of the vehicle, you may be offered a “cash-and-keep” settlement. Typically, the vehicle manufacturer will fix the vehicle and also provide you with a cash settlement. You get to keep the car, but in return, you will release the carmaker from any liability for the lemon defects for which you filed a lemon lawsuit against them.

The cash settlement is meant to compensate you for the inconvenience, cost of future repairs, or other out of pocket expenses relating to the lemon law. This option is best for consumers who don’t want to go through the process of getting a replacement or repurchase and prefer to keep their current vehicle. 

The cash settlement amount is not available in all cases and can vary depending on the specifics of your situation. Additionally, since you would be keeping the potentially defective vehicle, you would assume the risk of future mechanical problems with it. This is an option that you should carefully review with the help of an attorney before deciding.

Which Option to Choose Under California Lemon Law?

As mentioned above, Lemon Law specifically provides for a replacement or a repurchase of a vehicle that has been deemed a lemon. As the consumer, you have the option to choose either of these remedies and the manufacturer can’t force you to pick one over the other. It is up to you to decide which of these two options is best for your situation.

As a lemon law attorney in Los Angeles, I can guide you in making the right decision. For example, if your vehicle is expensive, a special model, or hard to find, I may recommend the cash-and-keep option. In some cases after inspecting the vehicle, I may determine there are likely more problems to come up in the future, so I would recommend a refund instead. Every case is different and I work closely with my clients to find the right solution.

I always handle cases directly myself – there are never any case managers or paralegals. If you need assistance with your lemon car, call my law firm and speak with me directly. As your attorney, I will evaluate your options and advocate for the maximum remedy you are entitled to under the law. My direct office number is (310) 341-4554 extension 2. Call anytime to discuss your rights and explore how we can get you into a safe, working vehicle that meets your needs.

Scroll to Top