Does California Lemon Law Cover Car Damage During Delivery?

Does California Lemon Law Cover Car Damage During Delivery?

June 21, 2024 Off By Glespynorson

Buying a new car is supposed to be an exciting time. But what happens if your shiny new vehicle arrives with dents, scratches, or worse?

No one wants to face this situation, but unfortunately, it’s not entirely uncommon. Maybe it was mishandled during transport, or something went wrong right before it got to you. Either way, it’s a real downer on what should be a great day.

This brings us to an important question: Does California lemon law cover car damage that occurs during delivery? In this post, we’ll dive into this topic and clear up some confusion.

Understanding California Lemon Law

Let’s start with the basics of California lemon law. Officially known as the Song-Beverly Consumer Warranty Act, California lemon law is designed to protect consumers who purchase or lease new vehicles that turn out to be defective.

The law mandates that if the manufacturer or its agents cannot fix a covered defect after a reasonable number of attempts, they must either replace the vehicle or refund the purchase price.

The key here is the term “defect.” Under the law, a defect refers to a problem that substantially impairs the use, value, or safety of the vehicle and is covered under the manufacturer’s warranty. Common issues include engine problems, transmission glitches, and other substantial mechanical faults.

Does Lemon Law Cover Delivery Damages?

So, does California lemon law cover damage that happens when your new car is being delivered?

The short answer is no, it usually doesn’t.

The law focuses on mechanical defects that affect how your car runs, its safety, or its overall value—not on scratches, dents, or other surface damage that might occur during delivery.

But there’s no need to worry. If your new car shows up with damage, you still have options. Although lemon law doesn’t cover these issues, there are other steps you can take to address the problem.

Steps to Take if Your Car is Damaged During Delivery

Finding damage on your new car right after delivery can be disheartening, but there are clear steps you can follow to handle the situation effectively. Here’s what you should do if you spot any problems.

Document Everything

As soon as you notice the damage, grab your camera or phone and start snapping pictures. Take detailed photos from different angles and jot down notes about what you see. Make sure to record the date and time as well- this documentation will prove crucial later.

Notify the Dealer Immediately

Call or email the dealership where you bought the car as soon as possible. Quick reporting helps ensure the dealer acknowledges the condition of the car as it was delivered.

Check Your Purchase Agreement

Pull out your purchase or lease agreement and go over it with a fine-tooth comb. Look for any clauses that specifically mention who is responsible for damages during transportation or delivery.

Insurance Claim

Depending on where the damage came from, you might need to file an insurance claim, either through your own insurance or the transport company’s, based on who’s deemed liable for the damage according to your agreement.

Dealer or Manufacturer Resolution

Often, reputable dealers are willing to fix the damages without charging you, especially if it’s clear that the damage happened before you officially took over the car. They might repair the car themselves or offer other compensation to resolve the issue.

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Consumer Rights and Protections

It’s important to know your rights when dealing with car delivery issues. If the dealership does not acknowledge the damage or refuses to take responsibility, it might be time to consult a lawyer.

There are consumer protection laws beyond lemon law that could be relevant, and a skilled attorney can offer advice tailored to your situation.

Ideally, you should take delivery of your new car during the daytime to easily spot any potential damage in good light. Don’t rush the inspection. Give yourself plenty of time to thoroughly check the vehicle before you accept the keys. Being meticulous at this stage can save you a lot of headaches later.

Frequently Asked Questions

To help clarify further details that weren’t covered in the main discussion, here are some additional frequently asked questions about California lemon law and car delivery issues.

How Long Do I Have to Report Delivery Damage Under California Lemon Law?

While California lemon law does not cover delivery damages directly, it’s crucial to report any damages to the dealer immediately upon discovery. This prompt action helps document the state of the vehicle as received and can be critical for any claims or resolutions you pursue with the dealership or through insurance.

What Constitutes a ‘Reasonable Number of Attempts’ to Fix a Defect Under California Lemon Law?

A ‘reasonable number of attempts’ typically means the manufacturer or dealership has tried to repair the same warranty-covered defect at least four times without success, or the vehicle has been out of service for repairs for more than 30 cumulative days. The specifics can vary, so it’s wise to consult with a lemon law attorney in California about your situation.

Can I Refuse to Accept Delivery of a Damaged Vehicle?

Yes, you can refuse to accept delivery of a vehicle if it arrives damaged. However, make sure you have thoroughly documented the damages and communicated the issues to the dealership.

The Bottom Line

While California lemon law does not cover car damage during delivery, you are not without protection. It’s important to know the extent of your rights and the steps you can take to rectify the situation. Always document the condition of your vehicle at the time of delivery and communicate openly with your dealer.

Remember, most dealers want to ensure a good customer experience and will work with you to resolve issues.