Buying a new car is an exciting time, but what happens when your new ride isn’t exactly what you expected? Maybe it’s constantly in the shop for repairs, or it’s not running as smoothly as it should be. These issues can add up quickly and leave you feeling frustrated and stressed out. Fortunately, California Lemon Law is here to help. This law is designed to protect consumers who have purchased a defective vehicle and offer compensation or a replacement if necessary.

Navigating lemon law can be overwhelming, but understanding your rights as a consumer is crucial. That’s where we come in. Explaining California Lemon Law, including lemon qualifications, claim steps, and benefits.


A row of cars in a parking lot.


What is California Lemon Law?

The Song-Beverly Consumer Warranty Act, commonly referred to as the California Lemon Law, grants consumers who have bought or leased a new or used vehicle that has defects with legal options. If the manufacturer or its dealer fails to fix the vehicle after a reasonable number of attempts, they must replace it or reimburse the purchase cost.


When Does Your Car Qualify as a Lemon?

For your vehicle to qualify as a lemon under California law, it must meet the following criteria:

  • The vehicle’s functionality, worth, or safety must be significantly compromised by a substantial defect. This defect should be included in the warranty and not a result of post-purchase misuse by the user.
  • The manufacturer or its authorized dealers must make a reasonable number of repair attempts to address the defect, and it should still be present even after these attempts. Generally, the law defines reasonable as either four attempts or the vehicle being out of service for more than 30 days due to repairs.
  • The defect must have initially appeared either within 18 months following delivery or before reaching 18,000 miles, whichever comes first.


The Lemon Law Claim Process

If you believe you have a lemon, the claim process typically involves the following steps:

  • Documentation: Maintain comprehensive documentation of all the problems encountered by your vehicle and the efforts made to fix them, encompassing specific dates, repair particulars, and the length of time your car remained at the repair shop.
  • Notify the Manufacturer: It is crucial to send a written notification to the manufacturer, providing them with one last chance to fix the vehicle before taking legal action. This necessary measure ensures that the manufacturer has an opportunity to resolve the problem.
  • Filing a Lemon Law Claim: In the event that the manufacturer is unable to rectify the faults in the vehicle, seek advice from a Lemon Law lawyer who can assist you in initiating a claim. They will provide guidance throughout the legal proceedings, engage in negotiations with the manufacturer, and act as your representative in court if necessary.
  • Resolution: In the event that your claim is approved, you will have the right to receive either a replacement vehicle or a refund.


Benefits of California Lemon Law

Regardless of whether it is brand new or previously owned, buying a car is a substantial financial commitment. However, if the vehicle happens to be defective and causes frustration and difficulty, it is referred to as a ‘lemon’. In these cases, consumers in California can rely on the Lemon Law for various advantages that safeguard their rights. Here’s a breakdown of these advantages:


Protection Against Faulty Vehicles

The California Lemon Law, also known as the Song-Beverly Consumer Warranty Act, protects consumers by ensuring that they are not stuck with a faulty vehicle if the manufacturer or dealer fails to fix a major problem after several reasonable attempts.


Covers New and Used Vehicles

The California Lemon Law protects a wide range of consumers, including those who own both new and used vehicles that are still under a manufacturer’s warranty.This inclusive coverage expands the number of individuals who can benefit from the law’s safeguards.


Enables Refunds or Replacements

If a vehicle cannot be fixed after several reasonable attempts, the law says the manufacturer must either give you a similar replacement vehicle or refund your money.This ensures that you will either receive a functional vehicle or be reimbursed for your investment.


A man writing on a piece of paper with a red pen uncovers how California Lemon Law can save the day for his new car troubles.

Includes Leased Vehicles

The California Lemon Law protects consumers who buy or lease vehicles for personal, family, or household use.


Recompenses Incidental Charges

Under the California Lemon Law, manufacturers are obligated to compensate consumers for any additional expenses related to the repair or replacement of a defective vehicle. This may encompass various costs like towing fees, rental car charges during the repair period, and potentially even legal fees incurred.


Discourages Manufacturers from Selling Defective Vehicles

Finally, the law serves as a preventive measure for manufacturers, dissuading them from distributing faulty vehicles. As a result, it promotes elevated benchmarks in vehicle production and trade, ultimately advantageous to all consumers.


Tips for Dealing with Lemon Cars

Here are some practical tips to help you effectively deal with a lemon car.


Understand Your State’s Lemon Law

Each state has its own Lemon Law, so it is crucial to familiarize yourself with the specific regulations that apply in your area. These laws define what qualifies as a lemon, the available safeguards, and the procedure for submitting a complaint. In California, consumers benefit from the comprehensive protections offered by the California Lemon Law when faced with a faulty vehicle.


Document Everything

Maintaining a comprehensive log of all problems, fixes, and correspondences is essential when pursuing a Lemon Law case. This includes documenting:

  • The nature and frequency of defects
  • All repair attempts, including dates, details of the work performed, and how long the car was in the shop
  • Any communication with the manufacturer or dealer regarding the car’s issues


Be Persistent with Repairs

Even in the face of persistent issues, make sure to bring your car in for repairs. The Lemon Law usually requires several repair attempts, usually four or more for the same problem. Your decision can make your case stronger.


Notify the ManufacturerProvide

If the dealer fails to fix the car’s problems after several attempts, you should contact the car manufacturer. Provide a written notice outlining the problem and previous repair attempts, granting the manufacturer a final opportunity to rectify the vehicle. This communication plays a vital role in initiating the Lemon Law procedure.


Consult a Lemon Law Attorney

Once you have informed the manufacturer about the ongoing problems with your car, it is advisable to seek assistance from a Lemon Law attorney. Experienced attorneys provide personalized guidance, assist in legal procedures, and advocate in negotiations or court.

Two business people sitting at a desk talking to each other, incorporating California Lemon Law.

Keep Calm and Patient

The Lemon Law procedure can be a lengthy and demanding one. Consequently, it is imperative to remain composed and tolerant. Keep in mind that these laws exist to safeguard your rights, so adhere to the established process. Your perseverance will probably yield positive results eventually.

To bring it to a close, California Lemon Law is an invaluable tool for consumers who have purchased a new car with persistent problems. Knowing your rights under this law can save you time, money, and frustration throughout the entire process, from documenting issues to the arbitration process. With the help of an experienced California lemon law lawyer, you can navigate the process with confidence and ensure that you receive the compensation and resolution you deserve.