Car Lemon Law

Lemon Law for Cars


A yellow lemon slice.

California Lemon Law for Cars

California’s Lemon Law is designed to protect consumers who purchase or lease new or used vehicles that turn out to be “lemons.” Here is an overview of its main provisions:

  1. Covered Vehicles: The law primarily covers new vehicles, including cars, trucks, SUVs, and vans. It also covers the chassis, chassis cab, and drivetrain of motorhomes. Used vehicles that are still under a manufacturer’s new car warranty can also be covered.
  2. Eligibility: If the manufacturer or its agents are unable to repair a vehicle’s warranty problem after a “reasonable” number of attempts, the vehicle is considered a “lemon.” This means that if the defect is substantial (meaning it impairs the use, value, or safety of the vehicle), the manufacturer must either replace or repurchase the vehicle from the consumer.
  3. Reasonable” Number of Repair Attempts: There isn’t a strict definition of what counts as a “reasonable” number of attempts. However, the law presumes that a vehicle is a lemon if, within 18 months or 18,000 miles of purchase:
  4. The manufacturer has made two or more attempts to fix a problem that could result in death or serious injury if the vehicle is driven.
  5. The manufacturer has made four or more attempts to fix the same problem.
  6. The vehicle has been out of service for more than 30 days (not necessarily all at once) due to warranty repairs.
  7. Remedies: If the vehicle is deemed a lemon, the consumer has the choice of a refund or replacement vehicle. The refund will include the purchase price of the vehicle (minus a small fee for the consumer’s use of the vehicle), as well as applicable taxes, license fees, registration fees, and any other official fees. If the consumer chooses a replacement, the original vehicle’s manufacturer must replace the lemon with a new, identical or reasonably equivalent vehicle.
  8. Leased Vehicles: The law also applies to leased vehicles. If a leased vehicle is deemed a lemon, the consumer can get their down payment and monthly payments refunded, minus a small usage fee.
  9. Legal Fees: If a consumer prevails in a lemon law lawsuit, the manufacturer is required to pay the consumer’s attorney fees.
  10. Used Vehicles: While the primary focus is on new vehicles, used vehicles can be covered if they are still under a manufacturer’s new car warranty or if they are certified by the manufacturer and come with a manufacturer’s warranty.

Remember, the actual legal process can be complicated, and this is just a brief overview. If someone believes they have a lemon, it’s recommended that they consult with an attorney specializing in California Lemon Law to understand their rights and the best course of action.


What is the process for filing a lemon law for a car in California?

Filing a lemon law claim for a car in California involves several steps. Here is an overview of the process:

  1. Document the Defects: Keep detailed records of all defects and repair attempts. This includes dates, descriptions of the issues, repair invoices, and any communication with the manufacturer or dealer.
  2. Review Warranty Coverage: Ensure that your vehicle is covered under the manufacturer’s warranty or an extended warranty, and that the issues you’re experiencing are covered by the warranty.
  3. Contact the Manufacturer or Dealer: Report the defects to the manufacturer or authorized dealer as soon as you notice them. Make sure to keep records of all communication with them.
  4. Consider Arbitration: Depending on your specific circumstances and the manufacturer’s policies, you may be required or encouraged to participate in arbitration. Some manufacturers have their arbitration programs, and there are state-run programs as well. Check if arbitration is necessary in your case.
  5. Consult with a Lemon Law Attorney: If arbitration doesn’t resolve the issue or isn’t required, and you believe you have a valid lemon law claim, consult with a lemon law attorney. They can provide legal advice, evaluate your case, and guide you through the process.
  6. Gather Evidence: Your attorney will help you gather all necessary evidence to build a strong case, including repair records, correspondence, and warranty information.
  7. Send a Demand Letter: Your attorney may draft and send a demand letter to the manufacturer, outlining the issues, the number of repair attempts, and the request for a refund or replacement vehicle.
  8. Negotiate or Initiate Legal Action: Depending on the manufacturer’s response to the demand letter, negotiations may take place. If no resolution is reached, your attorney may initiate a lawsuit against the manufacturer.
  9. Court Proceedings: If your case goes to court, your attorney will represent you, present evidence, and argue your case before a judge or jury.
  10. Resolution: If you win your case, you may receive a refund for the purchase price of the vehicle (minus a usage fee) or a replacement vehicle. Additionally, the manufacturer may be required to pay your attorney fees.
  11. Appeals (if necessary): If either party is dissatisfied with the court’s decision, they may choose to appeal the verdict.

Throughout this process, it’s crucial to consult with an experienced lemon law attorney who specializes in California’s Lemon Law. They can provide you with personalized guidance and increase your chances of a successful outcome. Remember to keep thorough records of all communications and documents related to your case for reference and evidence.


Do I need to go to court for my lemon car?

No, you don’t necessarily need to go to court for a lemon car. Initially, you can work with the manufacturer or dealer for a resolution. Many cases are settled through arbitration or direct negotiation. However, if these methods are unsuccessful or unsatisfactory, legal action might be needed. Consulting with a lemon law attorney can guide you on the best course of action.


How long does it take for the lemon law car process in California?

The lemon law process in California can vary in duration, depending on the case’s specifics. Typically, arbitration can take a few weeks to several months. If litigation is pursued in court, it can last several months to a few years. However, many cases are resolved through negotiation before reaching court (within three to six months). Consulting with a lemon law attorney can provide a more accurate timeline based on your situation.


What is a reasonable number of repair attempts for a lemon car in California?

In California, a reasonable number of repair attempts for a lemon car varies by case, but there are presumptions: two or more attempts for serious safety defects or four or more attempts (or over 30 days out of service) for non-safety defects. However, it ultimately depends on the specific circumstances. Consulting with a lemon law attorney is advisable for a precise evaluation.


Top California Attorney for Lemon Law Cars

If you believe your vehicle falls under California’s Lemon Law, seek guidance from our seasoned Lemon Law Attorney. We are committed to guiding you through this complex legal process, ensuring your consumer rights are protected for your lemon law car. Contact us for a no-obligation consultation to delve into the details of your situation.

Remember, you’re never alone in this – we stand ready to support you every step of the way at Lemon Car Boss.


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