How Does a Vehicle Qualify Under California’s Lemon Law?

california lemon law

What Is the Lemon Law?

  • California’s Lemon Law is part of the Song-Beverly Consumer Warranty Act.
  • The Act protects consumers against fraud in the purchase of certain goods, such as manufactured homes and vehicles.
  • It lays out requirements for implied and explicit consumer warranties.
  • A “lemon” is a vehicle that has severe defects or consistently malfunctions.
  • According to this law, if someone buys a defective vehicle under a manufacturer’s warranty and the manufacturer is unable to repair the vehicle, the consumer is entitled to a new vehicle or a refund.
  • The Lemon Law in California covers new and used cars, pickup trucks, vans, and SUVs. It only applies to cars bought under the manufacturer’s new car warranty. 

For more information, contact Starpoint Attorneys at Law.

What Are the Lemon Law Qualifications?

Under the Lemon Law, consumers must allow the manufacturer or dealer to make a “reasonable” number of attempts to repair the defect. The problem must be one that:

  • The manufacturer’s new vehicle warranty covers;
  • Substantially impairs the vehicle’s use, value, or safety; and
  • Is not caused by using the vehicle unreasonably after its sale.

A “reasonable” number of attempted repairs depends on the facts of the situation, as there is no set number. However, the Lemon Law Presumption lays out guidelines to determine what a “reasonable” number of attempts is:

  • The manufacturer or dealer made at least four unsuccessful attempts to repair the same problem;
  • The manufacturer or dealer made at least two repair attempts to no avail, and the problem is one that could cause serious injury or death; and
  • The vehicle was in the shop for more than 30 days to repair any problem covered by the warranty.

There is a presumption that the vehicle is a lemon if any of the above factors are true, and the problem occurred within the time limitations laid out in the express warranty, i.e., three years or 36,000 miles. However, Lemon Law cases are strongest if the problem started within the first 18 months of purchase.

If you believe you might have a Lemon Law claim, you have four years from the date the problems started to file a claim.

It can be difficult to determine when the clock starts ticking for the statute of limitations, so it is important to consult an attorney as soon as possible. Often, a manufacturer or dealer will offer the consumer the chance to resolve these disputes through an arbitration process. 

Lemon Law Buybacks

Dealers may buy back and resell lemon vehicles. However, the dealer must clearly identify the vehicle as a “Lemon Law Buyback” vehicle and place a “lemon” sticker on their door.

The seller must also notify the buyer that the car is a Lemon Law Buyback in writing. The buyer must also receive a list of the reported defects and any attempts that were made to correct the problems.

When dealers do not comply with these requirements, the subsequent buyers may still have a remedy under the Lemon Law. 

Starpoint Injury Attorneys Are Here to Help 

If you believe you may have a Lemon Law claim, you should contact a California attorney that has experience with this field of law. Starpoint Injury Attorneys can help walk you through the process of dealing with your claim. We can help protect your rights and interests to ensure that you receive the remedy you’re legally entitled to. Contact us today to schedule a consultation.

Author Photo

Aidin Ghavimi

Aidin is a partner at Starpoint LC, Attorneys at Law, and focuses on personal injury and employment law cases in and around Southern California. He earned his Juris Doctorate from the Loyola School of Law and his Bachelor’s from USC. Aidin’s primary goal is to bring justice to his clients and to ensure they are able to move on with their lives after a serious injury.

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