Does California Lemon Law Apply to Leased Cars?

One of the most common questions we frequently receive is whether California’s Lemon Law applies to leased cars? The answer is Yes – Lemon Law does apply to a leased vehicle as long as it was leased in California for personal use. Read more to find out how Lemon Law may help you get out of your lease.

What is California’s Lemon Law?

California’s Lemon Law was formally established by the Song-Beverly Act. Under this law, if a manufacturer is unable to correct a defect in a car or motorcycle after making a reasonable number of attempts, the buyer has a right to receive a refund, replacement, or settlement. The law does not define what a “reasonable number” of repair attempts are, however it does create a presumption that a car is a lemon if those defects arise within the first 18 months or 18,000 miles.

Even if a vehicle doesn’t satisfy the strict criteria of the Lemon Law presumption, it may still be deemed to be a lemon if it has issues that affect its use, value, or safety. If the manufacturer is unable to fix the defect(s) after a number of attempts, then the consumer may still be entitled to a refund of the purchase price, a replacement vehicle, or a cash settlement.

What types of vehicles does Lemon Law cover?

Lemon Law covers not only vehicles that were purchased but also leased in California. According to Civil Code Section 1795.4(b), a “lessee of goods has the same rights under this chapter against the manufacturer and any person making express warranties that the lessee would have had under this chapter if the goods had been purchased by the lessee….”

The other requirements that must be met under the Lemon Law are:

    • the vehicle has to be leased from a California authorized dealer,
    • the vehicle is primarily used for personal reasons (although some business vehicles may qualify), and
    • at least one initial repair was done under the manufacturer’s original warranty.

What to do if you believe your lease is a lemon?

Accurate record keeping is the key in prevailing in a Lemon Law case. Keep a record of the defect(s) and when it first began, including the date, mileage and a detailed description of the problem. Take the car to an authorized service center for repairs and make sure that the repair order accurately describes the issue the vehicle was brought in for. The more repair attempts the dealership performs, the more likely the car is a lemon. Obtain and keep a copy of all invoices and receipts for your records. If possible, get the name of the service advisor and the service manager who approved the repairs on the vehicle. If the problem is not resolved after multiple repair attempts, speak with a Lemon Law attorney to determine what your options may be.

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