What is California’s Lemon Law and How Can It Help You?

Updated: Dec 26, 2022

What is California’s Lemon Law?

California’s Lemon Law was created by two separate acts passed by the state legislature: The Song-Beverly Consumer Warranty Act and the Tanner Consumer Protection Act.

Under the Lemon Law, a buyer of a new vehicle is protected if the car has a defect which substantially affects its value, use, or safety. The vehicle must be purchased or leased in California to be eligible for Lemon Law protection.

Additionally, the vehicle must still be under the manufacturer’s new warranty when the defect first occurs. Purchasers of used cars are also protected under Lemon Law as long as the original manufacturer’s warranty has not expired. Essentially, the used car buyer takes over the remainder of the vehicle’s original warranty and is eligible to take advantage of California’s Lemon Law.

The owner of the defective car must give the manufacturer or dealer a reasonable number of attempts to repair the vehicle. The law does not define what is considered reasonable, but courts have held that “one” attempt to repair does not render the vehicle a lemon.

If after a reasonable number of repair attempts, the manufacturer is unable to remedy the problem, it must either provide restitution in the form of a buy back or replace the vehicle. The manufacturer cannot force the buyer to select either of these options, but rather the choice is up to the buyer to decide which remedy to seek.

What Types of Cars Does Lemon Law Protect?

Lemon Law protects any passenger car, SUV, minivan, pickup truck, sports car, and station wagon that is primarily used for personal or family purposes. It also covers vehicles used for business purposes as long as it weights under 10,000 pounds and the business does not have more than 5 vehicles registered. Vehicles that are not registered under the vehicle code, such as those driven off highways, are not covered under the statute.

What Types of Vehicle Problems Make a Lemon?

Lemon Law does not define or limit the types of defects that will render a vehicle a lemon. While defects that compromise a car’s safety are more likely to be found a lemon, issues that impair the use or value will also suffice. The following are some examples of defects that have been found to cause a lemon: window problems, breaking issues, transmission failures, convertible top leaks, whistling noises from the air conditioning system, mildew smell, coolant leaking, sudden acceleration, jerking or shaking, and electrical problems. These are just a few examples, the range of vehicle problems and manufactures is large.

Do You Need A Lemon Law Attorney?

The determination as to whether a vehicle qualifies as a lemon is fact specific and requires an analysis of many factors. A lemon law attorney can review the severity of the car’s problems, age and mileage, the number of repair attempts and other pertinent facts to determine the best approach moving forward. Sometimes, it may be necessary to hire experts to inspect the vehicle, while other times the service records may suffice. There are also various administrative requirements which must be satisfied prior to bringing a lawsuit against a car manufacturer, such as the 30-day Consumer Legal Remedies Act notice. If your vehicle is giving you problems, speak with a lemon law attorney today – waiting too long may jeopardize your rights.

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