When it comes to purchasing a car, consumers have certain expectations and rights. However, what happens when a vehicle fails to meet those expectations and becomes a persistent problem? In California, consumers have a powerful tool in the form of the California Lemon Law. This law provides protection for consumers who purchase or lease a defective car, truck, or motorcycle. With the help of this law, consumers can seek remedies that include a refund or replacement of the vehicle.



Understanding The California Lemon Law

The Song-Beverly Consumer Warranty Act, commonly referred to as the California Lemon Law aims to safeguard consumers who encounter issues with their purchased or leased vehicles. Below is a concise overview of this legislation.



The jurisdiction of the law extends to vehicles that remain covered by the manufacturer’s initial factory warranty. This encompasses both brand-new and pre-owned automobiles, trucks, and SUVs, in addition to the drivetrain component of recreational vehicles (RVs).


Lemon Definition

A lemon refers to a vehicle that, despite numerous repair attempts, cannot be brought into compliance with the warranty. This means that either the same problem has been fixed four times or the vehicle has been unusable for a total of 30 days or more during the warranty period.


Manufacturer’s Responsibility

If a vehicle is found to be defective, the manufacturer must either give the consumer a new vehicle or refund the entire purchase price.



In the state of California, the Lemon Law operates under the assumption that if the manufacturer or its representative is unable to adequately service or repair a new motor vehicle to fulfill the terms of a written warranty after a reasonable number of attempts, the manufacturer is obligated to promptly replace the vehicle or refund the buyer’s purchase price.


Legal Representation

It is recommended that consumers who suspect they have purchased a defective vehicle should consider obtaining legal counsel. According to the California Lemon Law, in the event of a successful outcome, the manufacturer is obligated to cover the expenses of your legal representation.


Leased Vehicles

Leased vehicles are also subject to this law.



Used Vehicles

If a used car is bought with a written warranty and has a defect during the warranty period, it can be considered eligible under this law.



Typically, consumers are required to undergo a manufacturer’s arbitration process before considering legal action, although this is not always mandatory.


Consumer Rights Under The California Lemon Law

The California Lemon Law protects consumers who have purchased or leased a vehicle or consumer goods that are considered lemons because of ongoing defects that cannot be fixed after a reasonable number of repair attempts.

Here are some key rights provided to consumers under the California Lemon Law:

Right to a refund or replacement

If the manufacturer cannot fix a vehicle or consumer goods after trying many times, the consumer can get a refund or a replacement. The manufacturer must refund the purchase price, subtract a fair amount for any previous use, or give the consumer a new product of the same value.

Right to a free remedy

The law mandates that repair, refund, or replacement should be provided without any cost.

Right to use any manufacturer’s repair facility

You can use any authorized repair facility from the manufacturer to fix any problems with the goods.

Right to recover costs and expenses

If the consumer wins the lawsuit, they can get their money back for the expenses they had to pay for the court, the lawyer, and any other costs related to the faulty product.

Right to damages for breach of warranty

If a manufacturer or its representative doesn’t fix a problem, the consumer can ask for payment for any violation of a clear warranty.

Presumption of a reasonable number of attempts

Assuming a reasonable number of attempts: If a vehicle or consumer goods have been repaired for the same problem four or more times within the first 18 months or 18,000 miles, or if the goods have been non-functional for over 30 days within the same period, it is considered that enough efforts have been made.

Remedies Available To Consumers

Consumers who purchase or lease a defective vehicle in California are entitled to various remedies under the state’s lemon law. This law safeguards consumers who acquire new or used vehicles with significant defects that hinder their functionality, worth, or safety. The following are a few of the remedies that consumers can seek:

Repurchase or Replacement

If the manufacturer or authorized dealer fails to fix the defect(s) even after trying multiple times, the consumer might be eligible for a vehicle repurchase or replacement. The manufacturer must fully reimburse the consumer for the entire purchase or lease amount, including taxes, registration fees, and additional charges.



Cash Compensation

Consumers can get money back for expenses caused by the problem with the product. The expenses can include towing fees, rental car charges, and repair costs. They can also choose to buy a new product or get a replacement.

  • Warranty Extension: In the event that the defect is deemed insufficient for repurchase or replacement, the consumer may still qualify for a warranty extension. It is the responsibility of the manufacturer to grant an extension of the warranty duration to encompass the said defect.
  • Attorney’s Fees and Costs: In the event that the consumer succeeds in a lemon law claim, it is possible for the manufacturer to bear the responsibility of covering the attorney’s fees and expenses incurred by the consumer during the claim process.
  • Civil Penalties: Consumers may be eligible for further civil penalties in situations where the manufacturer deliberately breaches the lemon law.


For detailed and accurate information, consumers should consult an experienced lemon law lawyer or refer to the California lemon law statutes. The remedies and requirements for filing a claim may vary depending on the situation and type of vehicle.


In summary, the California Lemon Law is a powerful tool that provides protection and remedies for consumers who find themselves stuck with a defective vehicle. You can seek compensation for your losses and avoid dealing with a lemon by understanding your rights and acting quickly. It’s important to work with an experienced lemon law attorney if you want to pursue a repurchase or a replacement. They can guide you through the process and help you get the best outcome possible. With the right legal representation, you can hold automakers accountable and get the justice you deserve.