Consumer Lemon Law

What is The Lemon Law in California?

What is the Lemon Law in California?

The California Lemon Law also known as the Song-Beverly Consumer Warranty Act, is a law in California that holds manufacturers accountable when their products come out defective from manufacturing.

This includes cars, trucks, vans, SUVs, motor homes, and household appliances. 

The California Lemon Law does not apply to apparel, consumer goods, and over-the-counter drugs. 

The law is designed to protect consumers who purchase or lease new or used vehicles in California that turn out to be defective. The law applies when these defects substantially impair the vehicle’s use, value, or safety.

The consumer must allow the manufacturer to attempt to fix the defect within a reasonable number of attempts (2-3 times) before filing a Lemon Law claim. 

Call us today and we will connect you with a California Lemon Lawyer near you. 

Table of Contents

What Makes up the California Lemon Law?

The Lemon Law in California requires an automobile manufacturer to either replace faulty automobiles, refund their costs if they are defective, or offer a Lemon Law buyback. The law can be enforced if the defective vehicle is not repaired within its original condition.

The law comprises the Tanner Consumer Protection Act and the Song-Beverly Act. 

The Tanner Consumer Protection Act

The Tanner Consumer Protection Act, under the Lemon Law in California, protects consumers who either purchase or lease a new defective vehicle by providing a guideline on how many repair attempts are acceptable before seeking a Lemon Law claim.

In California, the defective vehicle can be repaired by the dealer for the same faulty part twice during the initial 18,000 miles or 18 months. If the repair attempts are unsuccessful, then the vehicle qualifies as a lemon.

If the car is not safe to drive, or not functioning correctly as a new car should, then it qualifies as a lemon. Also, if the car is undrivable for at least 30 days or more since driving it off the lot, then there’s a valid lemon law claim.

A California Lemon Law attorney can help you start your lemon law case if your car presents one of the problems mentioned.

Ready to file a Lemon Law Claim?

The Song-Beverly Act

Song-Beverly Act

The Song-Beverly Act is the umbrella under which the California Lemon Law falls, specifically targeting defective vehicles and providing a framework for resolution between consumers and manufacturers.

Consumer Protections

The Act mandates that if a vehicle or other consumer goods are found to be defective and cannot be repaired after a reasonable number of attempts, the manufacturer must either replace or refund the consumer.

Coverage of New Goods

It covers new goods that are sold in California, such as cars, motorcycles, trucks, SUVs, vans, RVs and appliances.

Refund or Replacement

Under this act, if a vehicle is deemed a lemon, consumers have the option to choose between a refund or a replacement vehicle.

How do You Qualify For The Law in California?

Now that we covered how California’s Lemon Law got started, let’s talk in detail about what exactly the Lemon Law qualifications are, and how your car warranty helps with your vehicle’s defect. How many multiple repair attempts are appropriate? Does the law change for used vehicles? If your car is a Lemon, do you qualify for a cash settlement?

Below is a quick checklist that you can follow to see if a lemon law claim is in your future.

Qualification checklist

Purchase or Lease: Did you buy or lease your vehicle or EV in California? If yes, the law applies to you.

New Vehicle Coverage: Is your car new and covered by the manufacturer’s warranty for less than 18 months or driven for less than 18,000 miles? If yes, it might qualify.

Defects: Has your car had a recurring problem that the dealer has tried to fix more than twice, but the issue persists? If yes, this is a significant indicator.

Safety Issues: For serious safety issues, like faulty brakes or steering, has the dealer tried to repair it at least once, but the problem remains? If yes, then you could be driving a California Lemon.

Out of Service: Has your car been in the shop for over 30 days (combined) for warranty repairs? If yes, that’s a strong sign.

Impairment: Do the defects substantially impair the car’s use, value, or safety? If you believe they do, it strengthens your case.

Manufacturer’s Efforts: Has the manufacturer or dealer been given a reasonable number of attempts to fix these issues but failed? If yes, this is crucial.

Refund or Replace: Once you determine that you are driving a lemon, your options are for the manufacturer to repair, refund or replace your defective vehicle. If you are leaning towards getting a refund, then use our California Lemon Law Buyback/Refund Calculator to get an estimate of how much you could get back. 

If you find yourself answering ‘yes’ to most of these questions, then you might have a lemon law case. The next best step is to consult with a Lemon Law attorney in your area. Call us today and we will connect you with an experienced attorney in lemon cases.

Ready to speak to a California Lemon Lawyer, call us today at (323)-798-9554.

Stop driving a lemon

Are Used Cars Protected?

The California Lemon Law for a used car purchased under warranty from a dealer or retailer (30-day, 1000-mile warranty, or Certified Pre-Owned) covers defects that cannot be repaired after a “reasonable number of attempts”.

The law does not cover a used defective vehicle that was purchased from an individual. A defective car that is still under a manufacturer’s new vehicle warranty should be taken back to the dealership to be repaired.

Here’s a quick used vehicle checklist to follow to make sure the Lemon law covers your purchase.

Used vehicle Lemon Law checklist:

1. Car Warranty: Did the used car come with an extended warranty or a service contract?

2. Purchase Location: Did you buy the vehicle from a licensed California dealership or retailer?

3. Repair Attempts: Has the dealer tried to fix the same problem more than twice, without success?

4. Safety Issues: If there’s a serious safety defect, has it remained after one repair attempt?

5. Out of Service: Has your car been at the dealer for over 30 days in total for repairs?

6. Notice to Manufacturer: Have you directly notified the manufacturer about the issues?

If you’ve answered ‘yes‘ to most of these, your used car might qualify for California’s Lemon Law claim. Always consult a lemon law attorney in California who specializes in lemon law claims to help you. Call us, we can help. 

Consumer Lemon Law

Statue of Limitations

In California, the statute of limitations for lemon law claims is four years from the date when the defect was first discovered.

This means that if you believe your vehicle is a lemon, you have a hard deadline of 4 years from the moment you first notice the issue to file a lawsuit.

After this period, any claims under the California Lemon Law will be invalid. California residents must abide by this strict timeline and act quickly if they believe they have a lemon law claim, to ensure they don’t lose their rights.

What Won't The Law Protect?

As with any law, there are some limitations where the Lemon Law falls short.

For California, commercial vehicles and modifications may become an issue. 

Commercial vehicles

In California, the Lemon Laws extend its protections to commercial vehicles, but specific limitations exist.

For commercial vehicles, the law covers vehicles with a gross vehicle weight under 10,000 pounds that are bought or used primarily for a business.

This includes vehicles used for business where the owner has five or fewer registered vehicles. However, larger commercial vehicles or fleets exceeding five registered vehicles are typically not protected under California’s Lemon Law.

It’s essential for business owners and operators in California to be cognizant of these limitations when considering any potential lemon law claims for their commercial vehicles.

Always consult with an experienced attorney in Lemon laws to navigate the specifics of your situation.

Modifications made by consumers

It’s important to understand that modifying your vehicle could impact its eligibility under the California Lemon Law.

If you make significant alterations or modifications after purchasing a new vehicle and subsequently encounter issues with those specific modifications rather than with the original components provided by the manufacturer, it may affect your ability to seek relief under the Lemon Law.

Keep in mind that these modifications should be substantial enough to cause or contribute significantly to any defects experienced. Think you are ready to speak to a lemon law specialist? Call us today.

Lemon Law criteria

Do You Have a California Lemon?

If you suspect your new car is a California lemon, it’s essential to take proactive steps. First, ensure all repair attempts are documented; keep detailed records of dates, issues, and what was done to address them.

Notify the manufacturer in writing about the vehicle’s defects, allowing them a chance to remedy the issues. If problems persist, consult with an experienced lemon law attorney in lemon law cases to understand your rights and potential remedies.

Here’s a quick questionnaire to help you answer “Do you have a California Lemon?“.

How to Hire an Experienced Lemon Law Attorney in California

If you think your car might be a lemon in California, it’s a good idea to reach out to Consumer Lemon Law and speak to one of our advocates. We can connect you with a skilled lemon law attorney in your area.

Once you connect with a local Lemon Law attorney near you, they can talk with the automobile manufacturer for you and guide you on the best steps to take.

Plus, if you win your lemon law case in California, the automobile manufacturer has to pay your attorney’s fees.

California Lemon Law Buyback Calculator

California Lemon Law Buyback Calculator
California Buyback Calculator

Figuring out the buyback amount involves specific formulas, and these can vary by state. In places like California, a common formula looks at the miles driven before the first repair attempt, divided by 120,000, which is the average lifespan of a vehicle in the state.

You can also use our buyback calculator to get an idea of your potential buyback.

Is your car a california lemon
California Lemon Law FAQs

California Lemon Law Frequently Asked Questions

The California Lemon Law (Civ. Code, § 1793.2 et seq.) is designed to protect consumers when their vehicle is defective and cannot be repaired after a “reasonable” number of attempts. If a vehicle is deemed a “lemon,” the manufacturer or dealer must either fully repurchase or repair the car

Yes, the California Lemon Law covers used vehicles. From 2013 onwards, even “buy here, pay here” used car dealers in California are required to offer at least a 30-day warranty or similar protection

The California Used Car Lemon Law provides the manufacturer and its authorized dealers with a reasonable number of attempts to repair defects. The specific number is not explicitly mentioned in the provided search results, but it’s implied that if defects persist after multiple repair attempts, the vehicle may qualify as a lemon

The provided search results do not explicitly mention whether RVs, boats, and motorcycles are covered under the California Lemon Law. However, it’s advisable to consult with a legal expert or refer to the official California Lemon Law documentation for specific details.

To determine if a vehicle or consumer good qualifies for protection under the California Lemon Law, one should consult with a lemon law attorney or expert. They can assess the situation, review the product’s service history, and guide the owner on the next steps. Additionally, the law states that consumers have four years from the date that the product’s defects first appeared to file a claim

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