California’s Lemon Law, officially known as the Song-Beverly Consumer Warranty Act, aims to protect consumers who purchase or lease new vehicles that turn out to be defective. The law applies to vehicles bought in California for personal, family, or household purposes.

Man Holding the Rear Bumper of a Vehicle

What Qualifies as a Lemon in California?

In California, the criteria to define a reasonable number of repair attempts under the state’s Lemon Law are quite specific. Generally, this entails that the manufacturer has made at least two attempts to fix a warranty problem that poses the risk of death or serious bodily injury if it is not corrected. 

Alternatively, if the same warranty problem has been subject to repair attempts on at least four separate occasions without a satisfactory resolution, this too may satisfy the criteria. Additionally, a vehicle may be considered a lemon if it has been out of service for over 30 days due to warranty repair issues. 

It’s important to note that for any of these conditions to confer lemon status to a vehicle, they must occur within the initial 18 months or the first 18,000 miles of the vehicle being placed in use, whichever comes first. Your rights under the California Lemon Law:

  • Replacement or Repurchase: If your vehicle is acknowledged as a lemon, the manufacturer must replace or repurchase the vehicle. The choice between repurchase or replacement generally lies with the consumer.
  • Manufacturer’s Responsibility for Costs: The manufacturer is usually responsible for the consumer’s costs associated with the lemon, including the down payment, monthly payments, and registration fees.
  • Refund Calculation: If opting for a refund, California law provides a formula for calculating the charge to the consumer for the use of the vehicle.
  • Use of Vehicle: Consumers are entitled to continue using the vehicle until the matter is resolved, provided it is safe to operate.

Steps to Take if You Have a Lemon in California

Our California lemon law attorneys at Young & Young APC recommend that you take the following steps to file a lemon law claim:

  1. Documentation is Key: Keep all repair orders and records, any written warranty, and all written communication with the manufacturer.
  2. Report Problems Promptly: Present your vehicle for repairs to the manufacturer, its agent, or authorized dealer promptly.
  3. Lemon Law Presumption: Within the first 18 months or 18,000 miles, if your vehicle meets any of the conditions previously mentioned, it is presumed to be a lemon. This presumption can be a significant advantage in your claim.
  4. Seek Legal Assistance: Contact a California Lemon Law attorney. In California, if your claim is successful, the manufacturer is required to pay for your attorney’s fees and costs.
  5. Consider Arbitration: Some manufacturers offer arbitration, which can be less costly and more expedient than going to court. Check if this applies to your case and consult with your attorney to determine if arbitration is advantageous for you.
  6. Timely Action: Be aware that there are time constraints for pursuing legal action under the Lemon Law, so act promptly.

Empowering Your Family with Knowledge

It’s paramount for California families to be well-informed of their rights under the California Lemon Law. If your family finds itself with a lemon, understanding these rights and the appropriate steps to resolve the situation can save you time, money, and stress. Remember, the vehicle must substantially impair its use, value, or safety to qualify. Above all, timely and documented actions combined with legal guidance can ensure a fair resolution, allowing you and your loved ones to get back on the road safely.