Opting for a pre-owned vehicle instead of a new one can save you money, but it comes with potential pitfalls like ending up with a faulty car. Luckily, California’s Lemon Law safeguards used car buyers. This handbook will delve into your rights and the necessary actions to take if you believe you’ve purchased a defective vehicle.



What is California Lemon Law?

The Song-Beverly Consumer Warranty Act, also known as the California Lemon Law, provides consumers with safeguards in the event of purchasing or leasing a faulty vehicle. It ensures that consumers have specific rights and solutions if their vehicle cannot be adequately repaired after numerous attempts.


Applicability to Used Vehicles

While the California Lemon Law is often associated with new vehicles, it’s important to note that it extends its protections to used vehicles as well. However, there are certain conditions that these vehicles must meet to be covered:


Covered Under Original Manufacturer’s Warranty

Pre-owned cars are eligible for Lemon Law coverage if they are still within the manufacturer’s original warranty when bought or leased, but this protection does not extend to extended warranties or service contracts.


Purchased or Leased from a Dealership

The California Lemon Law only applies to vehicles bought or leased from a dealership and does not cover private-party purchases.


Substantial Use

The Lemon Law is only relevant for vehicles purchased for personal use, excluding those bought exclusively for business purposes or resale.


Reasonable Repair Attempts

The Lemon Law comes into effect if the vehicle has undergone numerous repair attempts without resolving the issue. The definition of a ‘reasonable’ number of attempts may vary based on the defect’s nature.

Consumers should familiarize themselves with these conditions when purchasing pre-owned vehicles to safeguard their rights as per the California Lemon Law.



Understanding Defects Covered

In order to meet the criteria of a ‘lemon’ according to California law, a defect must significantly hinder the vehicle’s functionality, worth, or safety, and it must not result from misuse post-purchase. Instances of this may involve reoccurring engine malfunctions, brake malfunctions, or notable electrical issues.


How to Identify a Lemon

Identifying a lemon can be tricky as it’s not always an immediate process. Signs may include:

  • Recurring issues with the vehicle’s performance or safety features.
  • The same issue arises even after multiple repair attempts.
  • Your vehicle spends too much time at the repair shop.


Steps to Take if You Suspect a Lemon

If you suspect that you have a lemon:

  1. Record all efforts to fix the car, noting the dates, details of the repairs, and the duration of time the car spent in the repair shop.
  2. Notify the manufacturer or dealer about the persistent problem.
  3. If the problem continues even after trying to fix it several times, you may want to think about consulting a lawyer for advice.


The Lemon Law Process

Commencing a Lemon Law claim involves a series of important actions. Initially, it requires gathering important paperwork such as repair logs and warranty information. Next, it entails formally informing the manufacturer about the problem and stating your intention to pursue a Lemon Law claim. To effectively navigate this intricate legal procedure and increase the chances of a favorable result, it is recommended to seek assistance from a Lemon Law lawyer who can offer advice and assistance during the process.



Timelines and Deadlines

There is no specific deadline for filing a Lemon Law claim, as long as the vehicle is still covered by the manufacturer’s original warranty. It is recommended to take prompt action when problems occur.


Common Misconceptions

Common misconceptions include:

  • “The law only applies to new cars.” In fact, the law applies to new and used car under the manufacturer’s original warranty.
  • “You can only make a claim within the first 18 months.” You can make a claim at any time while the vehicle is under the manufacturer’s warranty.


Hiring an Attorney

Engaging a Lemon Law attorney for your case can significantly enhance your chances of a positive outcome. Here are some key things to consider while hiring a Lemon Law attorney:



Seek out a lawyer who has a strong history of successfully managing cases related to the Lemon Law. Their specialized knowledge will guarantee that they are thoroughly familiar with the intricacies of this particular legal field.


Free Initial Consultation

Several attorneys offer a free initial consultation, allowing you to discuss your lemon law case without any financial commitment. This consultation serves as an opportunity to evaluate their expertise, understand their approach, and decide if they’re the right fit for addressing your specific situation.



In most cases where Lemon Law claims are successful, the manufacturer is obligated to pay for the attorney’s fees. It’s important to ensure that your attorney works under this arrangement, so you won’t have any expenses to cover.


Client Reviews and Testimonials

Examine feedback and recommendations from past customers. This can offer valuable information about the lawyer’s dependability, conduct, and track record of achievements.




Select a lawyer who places a high value on clear and effective communication. They should be easily accessible to address your questions, provide regular updates on the status of your case, and simplify intricate legal terminology for your understanding.


Comfort Level

Ultimately, take into account how comfortable you feel with the attorney. It’s important to have someone who comprehends your circumstances, demonstrates empathy, and provides reassurance regarding the legal proceedings.

Bear in mind that engaging the services of a lawyer can have a substantial impact on the result of your case. It’s a crucial choice that requires thoughtful deliberation.

California Lemon Law lawyer offers important rights and protections to consumers, even those who buy secondhand vehicles. Knowing and utilizing these rights can help transform a negative experience with a used car into a positive outcome. If you believe your vehicle may be a lemon, it’s crucial to promptly seek legal guidance and explore the options available under California’s Lemon Law.