Barnes and Farrell, California Lemon Law Attorneys

Posts Tagged ‘California lemon law attorney’


In a previous post, it was noted that a California appeals court held in Martinez v. Kia Motors America, Inc.  that the California Lemon Law does not require a California consumer to have possession of the vehicle to qualify for the California Lemon Law restitution (repurchase) remedy.  The case was appealed to the California Supreme Court by Kia.  In addition, the automobile manufacturers requested that the Supreme Court depubish the Matinez opinion.  If the opinion were to be depublished, it would no longer establish legal precedence nor would it be binding legal authority in relation to the California Lemon Law.  This office, via letter, requested that the California Supreme Court not depublish the Martinez opinion because it was properly decided.  Good news!  The California Supreme Court refused to accept the case for appeal and refused to depublish the opinion.  As such, Martinez  is now binding legal authority.  This opinion is extremely important for California consumers.  This is so because manufacturers will not be able to delay providing a consumer with a California Lemon Law restitution (repurchase) remedy in hopes that the consumer will get rid of the vehicle thereby extinguishing his/her California Lemon Law restitution right.  If you believe you may have, or have had, a lemon vehicle, give us a call and we will be happy to provide you with a  free consultation.

Honda Civic Hybrid, The Class Action That Couldn’t

Honda has major problems with its Civic Hybrids. In fact, in 2009 Honda attempted to enter into a class action lawsuit settlement concerning its 2003 to 2008 Civic Hybrids. However, the judge would not approve the settlement. The main problem with these Civic Hybrids is they get nowhere near the estimated fuel mileage. The estimates are in the 50 MPG range and owners have reported getting in the 30 MGP range. This substantial difference in fuel mileage estimates and actual fuel mileages is too huge to be blamed on “driving characteristics.” With fuel prices once again surging, this 20 MPG difference between the estimates and reality means hundreds, if not thousands, of dollars in extra fuel costs for Honda Hybrid owners. Although the class action settlement was not approved, the good news is that Honda Hybrid owners may have rights under the California Lemon Law. Contact one of our California Lemon Law attorneys for a free consultation.


On March, 2, 2011, the Forth Appellate District of the California Court of Appeal ruled in Martinez v. Kia Motors America, Inc.that the Califonia Lemon Law (Song-Beverly Consumer Warranty Act) does not require California consumers to have possession of a lemon vehicle in order to qualify for California Lemon Law remedies. In Martinez, the consumer was denied warranty coverage by a Kia. The vehicle was repossessed by the lender and the consumer thereafter filed a lawsuit against Kia claiming restitution remedies under the California Lemon Law. Kia argued on appeal that in order to qualify for California Lemon Law restitution remedies, the consumer must have possession of the vehicle. The court disagreed observing that the specific language of the California Lemon Law does not require that a California consumer have possession of the lemon vehicle in order to qualify for California Lemon Law remedies.  The consumer need only prove the basic elements of a California Lemon Law claim in order to be entitled to damages.  Once the basic California Lemon Law claim elements are met, the manufacturer has an immediate duty to provide the consumer California Lemon Law remedies.  Therefore, any California consumer who does not have possession of a lemon vehicle may nevertheless be entitled to California Lemon Law damages.


One category of California Lemon Law cases that our California Lemon Law law firm handles is warranty denial cases.  Warranty denial is when a manufacturer refuses to repair a vehicle under warranty even though the warranty is still in effect.  The main reasons for warranty denial are – lack of vehicle maintenance; modifications to the vehicle; adding after-market accessories to the vehicle; using the vehicle in an abusive way.  One should always maintain the vehicle according to the vehicle’s maintenance schedule and keep detailed records of the maintenance.  If the maintenance is performed at an auto repair shop, keep the repair orders and invoices as proof of maintenance.  If one performs the maintenance them self, keep receipts for oil, filters and other maintenance items.  Keep notes of  the date the maintenance was performed, the odometer mileage when the maintenance was performed and what specifically was done to the vehicle.  As for modifications and after-market items, the best way to avoid warranty denial is to not modify the vehicle or add after-market items.  And of course to avoid warranty denial based upon abuse one should use the vehicle in a reasonable manner.  

If the manufacturer does deny warranty coverage, the California Lemon Law requires that the manufacturer prove the lack of maintenance, modification, after-market accessory or abuse  caused the problem that needs repair.  In most cases, it is very difficult for the manufacturer to prove a problem is caused by lack of maintenance, modification, after-market accessory or abuse.  As such, if one finds them self in a warranty denial situation, there is a good chance the manufacturer will have to cover the problem under warranty.  If you believe you have been wrongfully denied warranty coverage, give us a call and one of our California Lemon Law attorneys would be happy to provide you with a free consultation.


In these tough economic times most consumers are relying on their vehicles to last longer. The days of the 24 month lease or consumers changing cars every three years is going by the wayside. As a result, consumers are often asking us whether they should buy an “Extended Warranty” in conjunction with their new vehicle purchase. Their desire is to be protected from the cost of repairs to the vehicle as it gets beyond the original factory warranty. They also want to be sure they have protection in case the car turns out to be a LEMON.

The first thing a consumer should understand is that when they purchase a contract to cover the cost of repairs beyond the original factory warranty this is generally not a “Warranty”. A warranty is a promise by the manufacturer or seller of a vehicle that it is free from defects. A warranty is provided to the consumer free of charge and accompanies the sale of the vehicle. When a buyer pays extra for what they believe is an “Extended Warranty” this changes the character of the promise from a warranty to a “Service Contract.”

Service contracts have the look and language that most consumers think is an extended warranty. Dealers will also often call what the consumer is purchasing an extended warranty. Such is not the case. A service contract is merely an agreement by the dealer or service contract company to pay for repairs to the vehicle, which are covered by the terms of the service contract, for a specific period of time. A service contract is not a guarantee or promise that the vehicle does not have any defects. A service contract is more like an insurance policy than a warranty.

What does this mean for consumers? A service contract backed by the manufacturer of the vehicle may seem to be a wise investment if the vehicle were to have problems beyond the factory warranty. However, consumers must realize that not all parts are covered by a service contract. If the problem with a vehicle is caused by a non covered part then the consumer is on the hook for the cost of the repair.

A service contract backed by a company other than the manufacturer of the vehicle is generally not a wise purchase. It is often difficult to determine the financial stability of these companies. If the service contract company were to go out of business this might leave the consumer with no recourse and a costly repair bill.

It also important for consumers to understand that when a vehicle has defects during the warranty period they may be protected by their State’s Lemon Law. This may entitle them to a refund of their purchase price of the vehicle or a replacement vehicle if they meet the State’s specific Lemon Law requirements.

On the other hand, the California Supreme Court has ruled that a service contract does not give consumers full Lemon Law rights should a vehicle have problems covered by the service contract. The consumer would be limited to damages for breach of contract, which may include the cost of repairs. But, this does not allow a consumer to obtain a refund or replacement of their vehicle for a service contract breach.

Some tips to help you make your decision whether to purchase a service contract.

1. Generally only consider contracts backed by the manufacturer of the vehicle. Be careful of non manufacturer backed service contracts unless you are 100% sure of the company’s financial stability.

2. Read the terms of the service contract carefully before purchasing. Know what is covered and what is not covered. Keep in mind the length of time you intend to keep the car and number of miles you drive each year. Do not just rely on what the dealer tells you is covered.

3. If you do purchase a service contract make sure you keep meticulous maintenance records. Lack of maintenance is often used as a reason by the service contract company to deny a claim for repairs that would otherwise be covered.

4. Realize that a service contract may give you some peace of mind for potential repairs beyond the original factory warranty but you may not have California Lemon Law protection for breach of this service contract.

Best of luck in your new car shopping. Make sure to do your homework before you sign on the dotted line.