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California Lemon Law FAQs

Get answers to the most common lemon law questions here

Frequently Asked Questions About Lemon Law

The California Lemon Law, also known as the Song-Beverly Consumer Warranty Act, is a consumer protection law designed to provide relief to buyers of defective vehicles. It requires manufacturers to repair, replace, or repurchase a vehicle that fails to meet certain quality and performance standards, despite multiple repair attempts (separate visits).

Cali Lemon Lawyers is a Los Angeles based firm serving clients from San Diego to San Francisco. We focus exclusively on claims related to defective vehicles. Lemon laws typically apply only to new cars but can apply to used vehicles in some cases (see below). This page takes a look at some of the most frequently asked questions we receive at Cali Lemon Lawyers and provides through answers answers to those questions.

Does your vehicle qualify for a lemon law claim? What is the lemon law process? What are the attorney fees? Does the California Lemon Law only apply to California residents? Read on to get your questions answered or give us a call at (310) 627-2665 for a free consultation to discuss your case.

What is Lemon Law?

What is Lemon Law?

California’s lemon law was designed to protect those who purchase faulty products or products that don’t meet the quality and performance standard that was advertised. The term “lemon” normally refers to automobiles like cars, trucks, SUVs, and motorcycles but lemon laws can cover other consumer goods as well.

If you’ve purchased a vehicle in the state of California area and feel like you may have bought a defective product then you may be entitled to justice outlined in California Civil Code section 1793.2. Lemon laws for each state are different but you can check the laws, as detailed by the Better Business Bureau, for each state here.

Key Aspects of California Lemon Law

Key Aspects of California Lemon Law

Qualifying Vehicles

New vehicles

California Lemon Law applies to new vehicles that are sold or leased in California and are covered by a manufacturer’s written warranty. This includes cars, trucks, SUVs, vans, and motorcycles, as well as the chassis, chassis cab, and drivetrain of motorhomes.

Used vehicles

Used vehicles are also covered under the California Lemon Law if they are still under a manufacturer’s new car warranty.

Timeframe for Lemon Law

The California Lemon Law states that it covers vehicles with problems that arise within 18 months of delivery or 18,000 miles, whichever comes first. However, if the issue persists beyond this timeframe, the consumer may still have rights under the law.

Repair Attempts

For a vehicle to qualify as a lemon, it must have undergone a “reasonable number of repair attempts”. In California, this generally means two or more unsuccessful attempts for the same issue, or 30 cumulative days in the repair shop for various issues.

What Are The Potential Outcomes of a Claim?

What Are The Potential Outcomes of a Claim?

1. Repurchase

If a vehicle is deemed a lemon, the manufacturer may be required to repurchase it. They must refund the purchase price, minus a reasonable allowance for use, and reimburse the consumer for incidental expenses such as towing and rental cars.

2. Replacement

Alternatively, the manufacturer may choose to replace the defective vehicle with a new one that is substantially similar in terms of make, model, and options. In this case, the consumer is not responsible for any additional costs associated with the replacement vehicle.

3. Cash compensation

In some cases, the manufacturer may offer cash compensation in lieu of a repurchase or replacement. This typically occurs when the consumer and manufacturer reach a settlement agreement, and the consumer agrees to keep the vehicle despite its defects.

What are some common cases in lemon law?

The California Lemon law applies for purchased vehicles, leased vehicles and used vehicles experiencing problems under warranty. Here a few common cases warranting filing a California Lemon Law claim:

  • Defective airbags
  • Molding in the air condition unit
  • Antilock brake failure
  • Transmission failures
  • Body damage
  • Damaged or broken brake pedal causing failure
  • Ineffective or failing seatbelts
  • Malfunctioning electronics and wiring
  • Engine computer not functioning properly
  • Cruise-control malfunctions
  • Engine fire and failure
  • Leaking in the fuel injection system
  • Defects in the fuel line that could create fire and smoke damage
  • Chipping and defective paint
  • Power steering malfunctions
  • Premature wear and tear on the brakes and rotor
  • Steering pull as a result of a malfunction
  • Engine stalling
  • Sudden unintended acceleration
  • Brake system failure

Certain states only cover certain types of vehicles, like those purchased for personal use and not for a business. Some states consider how much the vehicle weighs and won’t cover certain types. A small number of states have lemon laws that cover used vehicles, and some have laws that are ineffective. Some states’ lemon laws apply to other products as well.

What is protected by lemon law?

What is protected by lemon law?

The exact criteria vary from state to state but new vehicle lemon laws require that a manufacturer repurchase a vehicle that has a cogent defect that the manufacturer is unable to repair within a reasonable timeframe. Lemon laws take into consideration the nature of the problem with your vehicle, the number of days that the vehicle is unavailable due to repairing the reoccurring issue, and the number of times vehicle repair was attempted. The manufacturer could be obligated to buy back the defective vehicle if the repairs cannot be completed within the total number of days outlined in your state’s laws.

I purchased my used vehicle “as is” so does lemon law protect me?

Lemon laws will not protect the buyer of a product purchased without a warranty, like a vehicle purchased “as-is.” However, if you feel you were misled into waiving your warranty then you may still be protected.

What rights do I have if my dealer or manufacturer knowingly sold me a defective automobile?

You have the right to sue your dealer if they weren’t forthcoming about past damages to your vehicle or if they intentionally misled you into purchasing a defective product. If you suspect your dealership or manufacturer of foul play, then speak to a lemon law attorney at once about your case. If your car is considered a lemon, then you are entitled to a vehicle buyback or vehicle replacement.

How long is a vehicle covered under lemon law?

A new or used vehicle should be covered as long as it remains until its original factory warranty. The number varies, but new cars often have warranties that last at least a few years or until your drive a certain number of miles, whichever comes first.

Does lemon law cover used vehicles in California?

Does lemon law cover used vehicles in California?

It does but only if the used vehicle is still under its original factory warranty or if it was sold to you with a warranty from the dealership.

What if my dealership won’t refund or replace my vehicle?

The dealership is not responsible for refunding or replacing your defective vehicle—the manufacturer is. They are responsible for the warranty and would be the one to refund or replace your vehicle.

What if the manufacturer won’t refund or replace my vehicle?

This is against the law (unless your vehicle’s warranty has expired). If the manufacturer refuses, you may be able to take legal action. Feel free to call us for details regarding your specific case.

Final Thoughts

The California Lemon Law serves to protect consumers from defective vehicles that fail to meet performance and quality standards. By understanding the key aspects of the law, the process of filing a claim, and the potential outcomes, consumers can better navigate their rights and seek appropriate remedies when faced with a lemon vehicle.

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