How do I file a claim in CA regarding a lemon? California

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Filing a Lemon Car Claim in California

Once you’ve gone through all the preliminary auto repair steps with your dealership or manufacturer and you’ve determined (within your knowledge of the Lemon Law) that your vehicle is a lemon and is covered under the state’s Lemon Laws, it’s time to take action.

  1. Gather up all paperwork and other correspondences between you and your dealership or manufacturer. This includes – but isn’t limited to – your vehicle’s warranty, service contract, and any receipts from the auto repair mechanic. Hang on to these.
  2. Write a detailed letter to the manufacturer (you might want to include copies of all the above paperwork for added punch) asking if will buy back the lemon. To be safe, send this letter via certified mail and request a return receipt. You can find your manufacturer’s address in your owner’s manual.
  3. If the manufacturer declines, find out if it has an arbitration program. You can do this by looking in your owner’s manual or calling the California Consumer Affairs Hotline at (800) 952-5210. If there is an arbitration program, request a copy of the regulations. (Although you might feel like waiting to hire a Lemon Law attorney until the last possible moment, when you launch the beginning steps of arbitration is actually the perfect time to have legal help on your side.)
  4. Once you begin arbitration, you’ll receive a hearing date, most likely within 40 days of beginning the process. Now is the time to revisit all the paperwork, etc. mentioned in the first step.
  5. Attend the arbitration hearing. The panel will either find in your favor or not, and you can either agree or not. Even if the panel finds in your favor but the offer is unsatisfactory, you can reject. If it comes to either of those (the panel doesn’t find in your favor or you reject the findings), you can file a suit against the manufacturer through the court system. At this point, you should definitely hire a Lemon Law lawyer if you haven’t already.
If it gets as far as going against the manufacturer in court, your Lemon Law attorney will take over from there.

More Information about California’s Lemon Law

For more information about the state’s Lemon Law, how it applies to both new cars and used cars, and the claim-filing process:

  • Visit the website of the California Attorney General. There’s a section called “Consumers: Motor Vehicle Warranty and Lemon Law.”
  • Call the state’s Department of Consumer Affairs at (800) 952-5210 to request a copy of  “Lemon-Aid for New Car Buyers.”
  • Check out the “Car Buyer’s Bill of Rights” (heavy emphasis on used cars) on the CA DMV website.
  • Check out the Civil Code Section 1793.23, also located on the CA DMV website.

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