The California Lemon Law imposes a four-year deadline for filing a lemon claim, which typically starts when the consumer experiences warrantable problems with the vehicle. Even though there is a time limit, it’s best for consumers to act sooner rather than later, as delays can negatively affect the outcome of the claim.

Under California’s Lemon Law statute, to qualify for a Lemon Law buyback, the consumer needs to establish that the vehicle in question meets the legal definition of “lemon.” This can be tricky to do, so acting sooner rather than later gives the consumer a better chance of success.

The Lemon Law protects consumers if their new car turns out to be a lemon, meaning it has a serious manufacturing defect that can’t be fixed after a reasonable number of attempts by the dealership or manufacturer. 



If you think your new car might be a lemon, it’s important to contact a California lemon law lawyer as soon as possible to discuss your legal rights and options. In California, you have four years from the date of purchase to file a lemon law claim. After that, you’ll most likely be barred from pursuing a claim.


Qualifying Vehicles Under the California Lemon Law Statute

For a car to be considered a lemon, the defect(s) in question must significantly hinder the car’s use, value, or safety; and it mustn’t be due to the driver’s unreasonable use after purchase. The manufacturer is expected to make a reasonable number of attempts to repair the problem (s). 

Here’s some guidance on what would be considered a “reasonable” number of attempts:

  • The problem could cause serious injury or death, and the manufacturer unsuccessfully attempted repairs at least twice. or
  • The vehicle spent at least 30 days in the shop for any problems covered in the warranty, and those days do not have to be consecutive.

The Lemon Laws presumption says that if the vehicle falls into any of the above categories and the issue happened within the warranty’s time limitations, then the car is presumed to be a lemon.


Types of Vehicles Covered

Under California lemon law, all types of motor vehicles qualify for protection as long as they are purchased or leased for personal, family, or household purposes. Below is a list of the motor vehicles that are protected under California lemon law:

  • Motorcycles
  • Boats
  • Motor homes
  • RVs
  • Cars
  • Pickup trucks
  • Vans
  • SUVs

It’s important to know that the law doesn’t cover motor homes designed or used for human habitation or motorcycles used exclusively for off-roading.

Manufacturer Defects

It is important to understand the California Lemon Law and its implications for both consumers and manufacturers. The California Lemon Law protects consumers from being taken advantage of by manufacturers who knowingly sell defective products. It also holds manufacturers accountable for any defects that may arise from their products, ensuring that customers get the quality product they paid for. With the help of the California Lemon Law, consumers can be sure that they are getting the best value for their money.


Warranty Requirements

To qualify for lemon law protection, your vehicle must still be under warranty. It must have had at least two attempts by the manufacturer to repair a problem that could result in death or serious injury. However, even if your vehicle is out of warranty, you may still be covered if the first repair attempt occurred during the warranty period. You will need an experienced attorney to analyze your situation to determine if you have a case.


Automobile Manufacturers’ Obligations Under California Lemon Law Statute

That the expansion of state warranty laws covering new and used cars has given important and valuable protection to consumers.

This valuable warranty protection is vital in preventing used and irreparable motor vehicles from being resold without notice to the subsequent purchaser. In states without this protection, consumers are at risk of unwittingly purchasing a vehicle that may not be able to be repaired. Other states have addressed this problem by requiring notices on the title of these vehicles or other notice procedures to warn consumers that the motor vehicles were repurchased by a dealer or manufacturer due to these issues.

Notices like these help ensure that consumers have access to the information they need to make informed buying decisions.

When notices like these disappear upon the transfer of a vehicle’s title from another state to this state, it encourages the transport of “lemons” to this state for sale to drivers here.

Remedies Available Under California Lemon Law Statute

California’s Lemon Law protects buyers of defective vehicles by entitling them to a repurchase or replacement vehicle of equal value. 

For a repurchase, the buyer receives a refund of the vehicle’s purchase price, plus any incidental or consequential damages, with a mileage offset taken from the total. These are called the “actual damages.”

The refund of the purchase price will include:

  • The original price of the vehicle, plus the cost of any transportation or manufacturer-installed options.
  • Finance charges, prepayment penalties, and early termination charges that have been paid or incurred.
  • Sales tax, license fees, registration fees, and other official fees were included in the sale of the vehicle.
  • Any amount that is still owed on the vehicle, not including any unpaid finance charges.



In summary, the California Lemon Law is an important statute for consumers who have purchased a new or used car that has persistent defects. It provides consumers with a way to get the problem fixed or a refund if the problem cannot be resolved. It is important to be aware of the California Lemon Law and to understand the rights that it provides in order to ensure that consumers have the best possible experience with their new or used car purchase.