The short-term answer to if California honors lemon laws for leased vehicles is yes, they do. Lemon Laws apply to all vehicles covered under warranty and in need of repairs, and the name of the law is the Song-Beverly Consumer Warranty Act. A “buyer” is defined as someone who is purchasing consumer goods at any retail. Inside the California Civil Code Section 1793.2(d), it clearly states the manufacturer must replace or buy back vehicles that cannot get fixed and is labeled as a lemon vehicle from the "buyer." Most people do not know, and it is a commonly asked question. Leased vehicles do fall under this category as well. Leasing is not mentioned in the code, but experienced California lemon law attorneys will know how to handle the situation. An untrained attorney will not know the full extent of the meaning of the California Lemon law because the word “leased” is not involved.
What Is Vehicle Leasing?
There is a difference between purchasing a vehicle and leasing a vehicle. When a person buys a vehicle, they are making it their own possession. Leasing a vehicle pays to drive the vehicle, but the driver does not own the vehicle. The driver will drive the vehicle for a certain amount of time with an agreement to pay monthly or weekly for the use of the vehicle. Once the time limit is up, the driver will give the vehicle back to the dealership. The driver will have the opportunity to buy the vehicle if they wish after the term is up, usually two to four years. Most people lease vehicles in businesses where the drivers are using them for business purposes.
Company vehicles for managers or the VIPs of a company are the ones who will most likely receive a leased car or truck. Then there are the workers who may use leased vehicles like trucks to haul lightweight equipment to and from businesses. Vans are also leased for companies with crew members and are often used as buses to transport the workers to and from a job site or another location.
Finding Out the Leased Vehicle Is a Lemon
It can become a hassle for a company to find out they have leased a lemon. As mentioned earlier, when they weigh their options, they read the California Lemon Law and become confused when they do not see anything about their situation. The company owners begin to become stressed, but there is no need to worry. They must follow the proper procedures and search for an experienced attorney to take their situation to for legal assistance. They can read between the lines and give the best consultation for their clients.
Upon noticing there are problems with the leased vehicle, the company leasing must follow the proper procedures before any litigation occurs. They must try to work with the dealership to see if the problem can get fixed. If the vehicle breaks down with the same issues, the dealership must honor the warranty and repair the vehicle or replace the vehicle with another of the same value. If the vehicle is priced less than the original, the dealership must reimburse or credit the company leasing the vehicle. Should the dealership not honor the warranty for the lemon, then the company can seek out an experienced attorney.
How Can an Experienced Attorney Help for Leased Lemon Situations?
First, the attorney will listen to the client with a neutral attitude. Upon seeing the company tried to work with the dealership, and the dealership does not honor the warranty, the attorney goes into action mode. The attorney will review the documented paperwork from their client and see what they can do for them. The client must take recorded notes along the way of dates, times, what they said and what the dealership's responses were. Documents are the only way the case is set in stone because it is mostly what the court will look for in any case.
A Letter of Demand will go out from the attorney's office to the dealership with a copy for the client. From that point on, the client and the dealership should no longer correspond with one another. The dealership will get their attorney, and the attorneys will communicate with one another. Each will get back with their clients to agree on what the client wishes and what the dealership offers on their behalf. If the client is not satisfied with the dealership's offer, the case goes into its next phase.
Agreements Outside of Court or Litigation
The next phase is the negotiation process, where both parties will see what offers lay on the table. They may go back and forth for quite some time, and most of the time, agreements will happen outside the courtroom. California Lemon Laws are strict, and the dealership knows this. However, it will not stop them from trying to get out of a warranty agreement for lemons. The case is closed if the deals are met, and the client is satisfied with the dealership's offer. If neither party budges and nothing gets done, the case will land up in court before a judge and or jury.
Litigation happens where the judge has the final decision. As mentioned earlier, California Lemon Laws do not play around and are meant to protect the consumer. Too many dealerships are out to rip the consumers off in a fair deal. Warranties can take up time from the shop with customers that are paying after their service. This reason is the number one reason for dealerships to drop the ball on warranty agreements. If the judge decides on behalf of the company leasing the vehicle, then the dealership must oblige and give the company what they deserve in the case.
What Happens When the Company Wins the Case?
The company leasing the lemon vehicle will get awarded their justice. Either the dealership refunds the money to the company with any amount the company loses, or they will honor the warranty with another vehicle. The company will cut its ties with the dealership and take the refund plus the additional amount in most situations.
It does not pay to continue working with a dealership that will not hold true to its word, especially when the case is resolved outside of court. The dealership will also have to pay the court cost and attorney fees. It seems to be a bit much, so most cases never see the courtroom. Then again, some think they can get away with their unfair ways.