What Is California's
Lemon Law Presumption?

In California, there’s something called the Song-Beverly Act that lays down the state’s Lemon Law. This law puts the responsibility on manufacturers to take action if a consumer’s vehicle runs into a defect that just can’t be fixed after a reasonable number of attempts. The options for the manufacturer are to either buy back the vehicle, provide a replacement, or offer a cash settlement. This Lemon Law is applicable to both new and used vehicles that are within the original warranty period, and the repairs can be carried out either by the manufacturer or its authorized dealer.

Unfortunately, the Lemon Law doesn’t specifically spell out how many repair attempts would count as “reasonable” for a vehicle to be considered a lemon. However, it introduces something called the Lemon Law presumption. This means that if your car or motorcycle has spent a certain amount of time in the repair shop or has been through repairs a specific number of times, it’s presumed to be a lemon.

So, what are the criteria for this Lemon Law presumption to kick in? Well, according to California’s standards, a vehicle could be seen as a lemon if, within 18 months or 18,000 miles after you bought or leased it:

1. The vehicle has a serious safety issue that could even lead to death or severe injury, and the manufacturer has attempted repairs at least twice but the problem persists.

2. The manufacturer or its authorized repair facility has made at least four attempts to fix the same problem, but they just can’t get it right.

3. The vehicle has collectively spent 30 days or more in the service shop for various warranty-covered issues.

If any of these scenarios play out, your vehicle will likely fall under the Lemon Law presumption in California. Once this presumption is established, the manufacturer needs to prove that your car or motorcycle isn’t a lemon. If they can’t do that, you get to decide whether you want them to buy it back, replace it, or offer you a cash settlement. The ball’s in your court, and the manufacturer can’t push you into one option over the others.

But what if the Lemon Law presumption doesn’t quite fit your situation? Even then, your vehicle might still be considered a lemon. For instance, if a problem significantly messes with your vehicle’s value, safety, or usability and it can’t be fixed within a reasonable timeframe, it could be deemed a lemon. The same goes if the manufacturer doesn’t respect their warranty commitments or doesn’t honestly try to fix the issue. So, even if your situation doesn’t exactly match the Lemon Law presumption criteria, it’s a smart move to consult a legal expert well-versed in lemon law. They can help you figure out if your case falls under this category.

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