When you purchase a vehicle, you have certain expectations. You expect it to run smoothly and reliably for a reasonable amount of time, without excessive repairs or breakdowns. Yet sometimes, these expectations fall short, and car buyers find themselves with a car that just doesn’t work right.
That’s why lemon laws exist in each state – to protect consumers from being stuck with a faulty vehicle. These laws provide remedies for customers who have tried unsuccessfully to get their car repaired by the manufacturer. These remedies are in the form of a refund or replacement vehicle.
To qualify as a lemon under California lemon law, a vehicle must:
- Be covered under the manufacturer or dealer warranty when the defect or nonconformity was first reported; and
- Have one or more defects/nonconformities that substantially impair the vehicle’s use, value, or safety; and
- Have been subjected to a reasonable number of repair attempts by a manufacturer-certified facility to fix the defect/nonconformity; or
- Have been out of service for repairs on one or more defects/nonconformities for at least 30 days; and
- The defect or nonconformity must not have been caused by driver abuse or neglect.
So, what exactly is considered a ‘substantial defect’? Here’s everything you need to know.
What is a ‘Substantial Defect’ Under California Lemon Law?
Under the lemon law in CA, a defect is considered “substantial” if it affects one or more of the following areas:
The Value of the Vehicle
The value of a car is directly affected by its condition and functionality. A substantial defect can significantly decrease the value of a vehicle, making it worth less in both resale or trade-in value.
For instance, a car with a faulty heating system or AC may be worth significantly less than one without defects. In this case, the defect can be considered substantial under California lemon law.
The Safety of the Vehicle Occupants
When manufacturing a vehicle, car companies are obligated to ensure the safety of their drivers and passengers. As a result, automakers put each car through a number of safety tests before it hits the market. However, no manufacturer is perfect – sometimes, safety defects slip through the cracks.
Defects that compromise the safety of the passengers may qualify as “substantial.” This may include things like faulty brakes, malfunctioning airbags, steering issues, and so on. With a good California lemon law attorney, you can argue that most defects may threaten driver safety.
The Vehicle’s Use
The purpose of a car is to be driven and used as transportation. As such, any defect that significantly impairs the vehicle’s use can qualify as substantial under California lemon law.
This may include problems with the transmission, fuel systems, brakes, or any other issue that renders the car unable to function correctly as a mode of transportation. If a defect is affecting your ability to use the car for its intended purpose, it may be considered a substantial defect.
How to Prove a Substantial Defect in California Lemon Law Cases
Proving a substantial defect can be tricky and having the right evidence on your side is important. First and foremost, keep thorough records of all repair attempts. This includes keeping copies of repair invoices and any communication with the manufacturer or dealership about the issue.
Important: Do not take your vehicle to a third-party repair facility. This can affect your California lemon law claim – and potentially invalidate it. While the vehicle is under warranty, ONLY take the car to the manufacturer’s certified repair shop for all attempted repairs.
It’s also helpful to keep a log of any incidents related to the defect, such as car breakdown or glitchy functionality. Again, the more evidence you have, the stronger your case will be.
Finally, having a skilled California lemon law attorney by your side makes all the difference in proving a substantial defect. They can guide you in gathering the necessary evidence and set you up for the best chance at a successful lemon law claim.
The Wrap Up
There you have it – everything you need to know about substantial defects under the lemon law in CA. If you believe your car may qualify as a lemon, don’t hesitate to reach out to a skilled attorney for help. They can guide you through the process and ensure you get the compensation you deserve.
Remember: You are not alone in the battle against faulty vehicles and their makers. Lemon laws exist to protect consumers like yourself from being stuck with unreliable cars. Don’t let a substantial defect ruin your driving experience – take action and earn the justice you deserve.
Author Bio: Brian K. Cline’s Lemon Law Legal Group provides premier legal services. Our California lemon law lawyers aggressively and ethically force vehicle manufacturers to buy back defective and dangerous vehicles. Our team includes experienced trial lawyers with over 40 years of combined trial experience.