How Much Can I Get From A Lemon Law Claim In California?

by Aaron Fhima on Oct. 05, 2017

Motor Vehicle Defect and Lemon Law Consumer Rights  Consumer Protection 

Summary: If you purchased a bum vehicle, the Lemon Law protects your rights as a consumer. Find out how much you can expect to receive in a California Lemon Law claim for a new or used vehicle.

If you purchased a bum vehicle, the Lemon Law protects your rights as a consumer. Find out how much you can expect to receive in a California Lemon Law claim for a new or used vehicle. 

Who is Eligible for a California Lemon Law Claim? 

The Lemon Law in California applies to new cars as well as used vehicles that are still covered by the manufacturer's "new vehicle" warranty. If the "new vehicle" warranty has expired, or if you purchase a used car that lacks the original warranty, the Lemon Law no longer protects you. 

To initiate a California Lemon Law claim, you must first give the dealer a chance to fix defects that are covered by warranty. If the dealer is unable to fix the problem after several good faith attempts, you then have the opportunity to make a Lemon Law claim. 

What the California Lemon Law Covers

If you decide to take the money rather than the replacement car, the dealer or manufacturer must use a formula to determine what you'll get. Dealers or manufacturers must compensate you for: 

  • Your down payment and sales tax - You'll receive reimbursement for your down payment and any sales tax you paid, unless the sales tax was prorated into monthly car payments. 
  • Monthly car payments - If you financed the new or used car, you'll be refunded for any monthly car payments you've made to date. 
  • License and registration costs - If these were not prorated into monthly car payments, you'll be reimbursed for the full cost of licensing and registration for your defective vehicle. 
  • Incidental costs, including rental car expenses - If you paid out of pocket to rent a car while your vehicle was in the shop, you can be reimbursed. You'll also be repaid for taxi fees, car services, tow services, or other out-of-pocket costs you incurred as a result of your defective car. 
  • Attorney's fees - If you hired a California attorney to represent you in your Lemon Law claim, the dealer or auto manufacturer will pay your attorney's fees. 

The Lemon Law does not allow the manufacturer or dealer to award you damages to reflect your emotional suffering or compensate you for lost wages due to car troubles. 

How Much Can You Receive in a Lemon Law Claim? 

Under the law, the manufacturer can also deduct money to reflect the mileage you drove until you first reported the problem. The legal formula for the mileage deduction is expressed as the purchase price of the car multiplied by the mileage at the time you presented the car to the dealer, divided by 120,000 miles. So if you paid $20,000 for the car and you first brought it in to the dealer for repair at 5,000 miles, the deduction would be 20,000 x 5,000 / 120,000, which equals $833.33. 

Now that you understand what the dealer or manufacturer is obligated to pay you and what they can withhold, you can determine how much you are eligible to receive. To do this, gather any receipts for costs incurred, as well as the paperwork documenting your license and registration costs, monthly car payments, down payment, and other eligible costs. Add up the costs, then calculate the mileage deduction using the above formula. 

If you think you may have a lemon,
the attorneys at Neale & Fhima can help. Contact us today for a free consultation.

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