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How Lemon Law Protects California Consumers

Sep 22



Imagine buying a brand-new car, excited about the adventures it will take you on, only to find yourself frequently at the dealership for repairs. This unfortunate situation has been the reality for many consumers. However, in California, consumers have a powerful weapon in their arsenal to combat such issues - the California Lemon Law. In this article, we will delve into the intricacies of how the Lemon Law safeguards the rights and interests of consumers in the Golden State.


What is the Lemon Law?

The California Lemon Law, formally known as the Song-Beverly Consumer Warranty Act, is a piece of legislation designed to protect consumers who purchase or lease new and used vehicles with persistent defects or problems, often referred to as "lemons." This law applies to various types of vehicles, including cars, trucks, motorcycles, and even motorhomes.

The primary purpose of the Lemon Law is to ensure that consumers receive vehicles that meet basic quality and performance standards. When a vehicle falls short of these standards and experiences repeated or severe defects, the Lemon Law provides consumers with a legal remedy, which often involves getting a refund or a replacement vehicle.


Coverage and Eligibility

To benefit from the protections offered by the California Lemon Law, certain criteria must be met:


New or Used Vehicles: The Lemon Law applies to both new and used vehicles, as long as they are sold with a manufacturer's warranty. This means that even if you purchase a used car that still has some warranty coverage left, you may be eligible for protection under the Lemon Law.

Within the Warranty Period: Typically, the vehicle's problems must occur during the warranty period. However, if the defects continue to persist after the warranty has expired, you might still be covered if the issues were reported during the warranty period and the manufacturer or its authorized dealer was unable to repair them.

Number of Repair Attempts: To qualify as a lemon, the vehicle must have undergone a reasonable number of repair attempts for the same defect. This number is often specified by the manufacturer's warranty or, if not, is generally determined under the California Lemon Law guidelines.

Safety Hazard Exception: The Lemon Law also includes provisions for "substantial safety hazards." If a defect poses a significant risk to the safety of the vehicle's occupants, it may be considered a lemon even if it has not undergone a specific number of repair attempts.


Consumer Remedies

When a vehicle qualifies as a lemon under the California Lemon Law, consumers have several remedies at their disposal.


Refund: Consumers can request a refund of the purchase or lease price, including any applicable taxes, registration fees, and finance charges. This refund should take into account the mileage driven before the first repair attempt for the defect.

Replacement: Alternatively, consumers can choose to receive a replacement vehicle of equal value to the lemon. The manufacturer is responsible for providing a new vehicle or one with low mileage and similar features to the original.

Incidental Damages: In addition to the refund or replacement, consumers may be entitled to reimbursement for incidental damages such as towing fees, rental car costs, and repair expenses.

Attorney's Fees: The Lemon Law also includes provisions for the recovery of attorney's fees, ensuring that consumers do not bear the financial burden of pursuing their lemon law claims.


Manufacturer Obligations

Manufacturers are obligated to adhere to the California Lemon Law and must provide consumers with a reasonable opportunity to repair defects covered under warranty. They must also maintain accurate records of repair attempts and promptly respond to consumer complaints.

Furthermore, manufacturers are required to notify consumers of their rights under the Lemon Law in the owner's manual provided with the vehicle. This notice must be conspicuous and in a font and format that is easy to read.




The California Lemon Law serves as a vital safeguard for consumers purchasing or leasing vehicles in the state. It ensures that consumers receive a product that meets reasonable quality and performance standards and provides remedies when persistent defects or problems occur. By understanding their rights under the Lemon Law, consumers can confidently navigate the process of seeking a refund or replacement for their faulty vehicles, ultimately protecting their investments and ensuring they get the safe and reliable transportation they deserve. In a world where vehicle purchases are significant investments for many, the California Lemon Law stands as a crucial piece of legislation that puts the power back into the hands of consumers.


Can I file a lemon law claim if I purchased a used car without a warranty?

The California Lemon Law primarily applies to vehicles sold with a warranty, whether new or used.

What is considered a "reasonable number of repair attempts"?

The law doesn't specify an exact number, but it generally depends on the nature of the defects and the number of attempts made.

Can I still get a refund if I've been using the vehicle for a while?

Yes, even if you've been using the vehicle, you may be entitled to a partial refund based on its current value.

How long does the manufacturer or dealer have to fix the defects?

The law doesn't set a specific timeframe, but it should be a "reasonable" amount of time.

Is legal representation necessary when dealing with a potential lemon law case?

While not mandatory, having a specialized attorney can significantly increase your chances of a successful outcome.



McMillan Law Group

4655 Cass St, San Diego, CA 92109, United States

+1 619-795-9430