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How Much Time Do You Have To File A Lemon Law Claim In California?


Having a new car with issues can be a pain in the neck. Not only is it inconvenient and costly, but it can also post a risk to your safety. If your car isn’t functioning properly due to a manufacturing defect, you could be entitled to compensation. The California lemon law protects consumers from the burden and financial strain that comes with owning a faulty vehicle under warranty, including the aggravation of bringing it to the dealership for multiple repairs.

If you think you have a lemon, there is a a 4 year time limit for filing a lemon law claim. By filing a claim on time, you may be able to get a replacement vehicle or monetary compensation for the vehicle.

In this post, we review the California lemon law to help understand the 4 year time limit, how to qualify, and how to file a claim. Let’s get started!

How Do You Know If the Car Is a Lemon?

For your vehicle to legally qualify as a lemon in California, the dealership must have made a reasonable number of repair attempts to fix the defect. Generally, 2 or more unsuccessful attempts are enough to prove that the vehicle is a lemon.

Know if your car is a lemon

If you recently bought a new or used vehicle in California, it must run properly and have no recurring problems. There are many California lemon law cases where people purchased used cars with a defect that substantially impairs the value or safety and can’t be repaired.

If you can prove that the car satisfies the criteria of the lemon law, you could be eligible to get a refund or a different vehicle from the manufacturer.

Some common defects found in lemon cars are:

  • Faulty vehicle airbags
  • Electrical problems
  • Mechanical defects
  • Software malfunctions
  • Bad brakes
  • Transmission problems
  • and more

However, if the defect could cause a serious injury or fatality, the lemon law only requires two trips to a qualified repair shop. Another qualification would be if your vehicle had been in a repair shop for 30 or more days.

While there’s no specific time limit for repairing the car, you must still be under the vehicle manufacturers’ warranty period to file a claim.

Have questions about the lemon law? Contact Cali Lemon Lawyers for a free consultation!: (310) 627-2665

How Long Do You Get to File Your Lemon Law Claim?

How long do you get to file your lemon law claim?

California Lemon Law applies if your vehicle is within the warranty period of the vehicle. It does not stipulate that the repairs should happen within the first 18 months or 18,000 miles of usage.

Once the issue is discovered, you’ve only got a specific amount of time to file a lemon law claim. These time limits do not vary. In California, the statute of limitations for filing a lemon law claim is four years. Therefore, any lawsuit claiming that the car warrants a lemon law settlement has to be filed within that time frame.

However, to calculate when your four-year statute of limitations applicable to the California lemon law expires, you must understand when it starts. Generally, vehicle manufacturers want to claim that it starts from the date of purchase or when the down payment was made. However, the California court ruled that it starts from the latest repair on the vehicle conducted under warranty.

Though there’s a strict four-year timeline, there could be many considerations involved while determining when the statute starts and ends. Therefore, it’s best not to wait until the last moment to file or get legal advice.

When Does This California Lemon Law Time Limit Begin?

Lemon Law Time Limit

Many consumers incorrectly believe that this statute of limitations begins when you buy the vehicle, but this is not true! The California lemon law time limit begins when the defect is first found. Ultimately, the clock begins ticking once you notice the nonconformity wasn’t repairable.

Because the starting time for this lemon law statute isn’t straightforward at all times, it leaves much room for interpretation and litigation! Sometimes, the manufacturer might try to get the case thrown out based on a technicality and claim that you didn’t raise the claim before the statute of limitations for the lemon law expired. This is why it’s crucial to keep your repair receipts, copies of any correspondence with your dealership, and detailed records of all events so that the claim can’t be disputed.

You must also be aware that there’s a presumption that the car is a lemon if the issue arose within 18 months of the delivery of the vehicle or 18,000 miles. With that, there’s no further proof necessary to establish that the car is a lemon. You just prove that the defect came about within that time limit and under the manufacturer’s warranty. Now, the burden is on the dealership or manufacturer to rebut the claim. However, if a vehicle is presumed to be a lemon, your case must still begin before the four-year statute of limitations ends.

There are many complexities involved here, so it’s wise to discuss California’s lemon law statute of limitations with a California lemon law attorney. We offer a free case evaluation to see if we can assist.

What Could Happen if You Choose to Delay Making the Lemon Law Claim?

Delay In Making The Lemon Law Claim

With the four-year absolute deadline, you must raise the California lemon law claim before this statute of limitations expires. If you don’t, you might not be allowed to invoke the statute to get a refund or replacement. For the manufacturers, the statute of limitations defense serves as a stronger argument to get the case dismissed.

Though you’ve got four years to file under California law, delaying the lemon law case could affect your outcome.

For example, the manufacturer could try to dispute the claim and shift the blame to you. It might say that the mileage you put on it between when you discovered the issue and started the case caused the vehicle’s defect. By waiting until the very last minute to file a lemon law case and driving the car, it makes it harder to prove the seriousness of the problem.

Reduce Your Chances of Getting the Lemon Law Buyback if You Delay

Though you’ve got four years to file a California lemon law claim on your lemon vehicle, take action as soon as possible to avoid losing your legal rights under the lemon law. The strength of the claim could be reduced if you wait too long before seeking your lemon law buyback.

To qualify for the lemon law buyback, the defect has to significantly impair the value, use, or safety of the vehicle. It’s harder to prove that if you delayed filing a lemon law lawsuit until near the end of the statute of limitations.

It’s best to contact a qualified lemon law attorney to get a free case evaluation about your lemon law lawsuit. We can help you understand the rules for the lemon law buyback and see if you have a case.

Contact a Qualified Lemon Law Lawyer for Your Lemon Law Claim

If you bought a preowned or new vehicle that didn’t conform to the warranty from the manufacturer, you could have a lemon. When you realize that the car can’t be repaired, you should talk to a California lemon law attorney. They can help you understand your legal rights and file a California lemon law claim.

There are specific time limits in place, and California’s lemon law statute of limitations is firm. Therefore, please call us to get a free consultation for your potential lemon law claim. As your California lemon law attorney, we work hard on your California lemon law claim!

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