How Does a Car Qualify for Lemon Law in California?

How Does a Car Qualify for Lemon Law in California?

Under California lemon law, a vehicle with significant defects may qualify for compensation if the issues cannot be resolved. For the car to qualify as a lemon, the defects must be covered by the warranty and the problems must start within the first 18 months of ownership

Because many stipulations and exclusions surround these laws, it’s best to contact lemon law lawyers to handle the claim. Our professional attorneys have helped thousands of clients navigate lemon law’s stringent rules and regulations. We offer a free lemon law consultation, so you don’t have to pay anything upfront.

This blog addresses how vehicles qualify for the car lemon law, how many repair attempts are required, and the best ways to ensure a successful claim. With more knowledge under your belt, your chances of getting the maximum compensation go up accordingly, so you must familiarize yourself with the regulations.

What Is the Lemon Law in California?

What Is the Lemon Law in California?

California lemon law is a consumer protection act providing legal remedies to purchasers or lessees of defective vehicles, usually new cars, allowing them to receive a refund or replacement vehicle if it has significant defects that the manufacturer or dealership is unable to repair within a reasonable number of attempts.

Drivers shouldn’t be stuck with a defective vehicle, which is why these consumer protection laws exist. Otherwise, manufacturers would be allowed to sell bad motor vehicles to the public and there would be no way to get reimbursement. Instead, lemon law in California keeps the automakers accountable for what is sold to the consumer, ensuring that hardworking people are not taken advantage of.

In fact, the average lemon law settlement in California can reach up to $100,000, depending on the circumstances. When adding up the replacement cost of the motor vehicle and all of the legal fees they would be responsible for, the manufacturers are better off ensuring that the defects get repaired under the manufacturer’s warranty.

How Does a Car Qualify for Lemon Law in California?

How does a Car Qualify for Lemon Law in California?

California lemon law covers cars with substantial and unrepairable defects that are still covered by warranty. Here are some generalized guidelines as to what car qualifies for California Lemon Laws:

  • The vehicle must have a substantial defect that’s covered under the manufacturer’s warranty.
  • The substantial defect must inhibit the vehicle’s use, safety or value.
  • This defect surfaced during the first 18,000 miles or 18 months of taking possession of the vehicle, whichever comes first.
  • An authorized repair facility has attempted to repair the issue (typically with a minimum of four attempts) and cannot find a resolution.

New or used vehicles both qualify for lemon law under certain conditions. For a used car to be included, it must also have warranty coverage provided by the manufacturer or through the dealership where the car was purchased. Either a Certified Pre-Owned warranty or extended warranty coverage may be provided. Used cars purchased through private party sales are not covered.

However, in the case of problems beyond the lemon laws’ scope, there is legal recourse for drivers. If there’s been any fraud, misrepresentation, breach of contract or consumer protection violations, you may be looking at one of the reasons to sue a car dealership in California.

What Defects Fall Under California Lemon Law?

What Defects Fall Under California Lemon Law?

Not all problems qualify for a lemon law claim, but because the regulations state that any defect affecting the value, use or safety is included, there’s a long list of the types of problems covered by lemon law. Major issues, such as engine failure and transmission slippage, would be included, but so would smaller concerns, such as a failing air conditioning system or trouble with the power locks.

There’s also a distinction between safety and non-safety-related concerns, although both can be covered. If serious injury could occur as a result of the defect, the vehicle only needs to be at an authorized repair shop two times instead of the standard four. With fewer repair attempts needed, California law aims to protect occupants from serious bodily injury.

What Is a Reasonable Number of Repair Attempts?

To meet lemon law qualifications, the automobile manufacturer must have attempted to repair the defects at a qualified shop. In most cases, the car manufacturer has four attempts to get the issue repaired. These repairs should occur through the car warranty.

As previously discussed, when a safety issue is present, there only need to be two repair attempts made for lemon law disputes to occur. This reduced stipulation is meant to protect consumers from injury.

In either case, dealers aren’t entitled to keep your vehicle as long as they want. The dealership can hold your car for repair for 30 days. This thirty-day guideline includes every attempt. Therefore, if your new car was in the shop the first time for 20 days and the second for 15 days, there don’t need to be two more attempts. Your vehicle would qualify for a lemon law case.

How Can a New Car Qualify for Lemon Law in California?

How Can a New Car Qualify for Lemon Law in California?

Lemon law for new cars in California dictates that multiple attempts must be made to repair the vehicle’s defect during the warranty period, although the number of attempts varies based on the severity of the issue. A new car qualifies as a lemon because of the manufacturer’s warranty, which is different from the extended car warranties in California that kick in once the initial protection ends. However, the issue must occur within the first 18,000 miles or 18 months of taking possession of the vehicle.

Lemon vehicles can be purchased back by the manufacturer, you can be given a replacement or there could be monetary compensation offered and you keep the vehicle. The lemon law buyback requires you to return the vehicle. You are given money for the purchase price of the defective vehicle minus the time you drove it. Lemon law covers other fees associated with the purchase or lease, including the sales tax and dealership fees. In some cases, the manufacturer must also pay for your lemon law representation.

How Can a Used Car Qualify for Lemon Law in California?

How Can a Used Car Qualify for Lemon Law in California?

New and used vehicles are both covered by lemon law, but the pre-owned models have different regulations. Lemon law for used cars in California requires that the vehicles be covered by the dealership’s extended warranties. A certified used car may still be covered through the factory warranty, but a used vehicle sold by a third party isn’t going to fall under lemon law coverage.

Since 2013, all “Buy Here, Pay Here” dealers must offer a 30-day/1,000-mile warranty for pre-owned vehicles. In some cases, the dealerships that don’t handle the financing offer even better warranties, especially if the car has been reconditioned. Similarly to the new car lemon law cases, there must be a significant defect that substantially impairs its use, value or safety which cannot be repaired in a reasonable timeframe.

Used lemon vehicles may also be bought back by the dealer. There’s also the option to receive another vehicle with a similar purchase price or value in exchange for the defective model. Otherwise, you can take a payout from the dealer with the agreement that you will keep the vehicle. However, no further lemon law work will be allowed for the vehicle and no additional compensation will be given.

What Is the Lemon Law Process if Your Car Qualifies?

What Is the Lemon Law Process if Your Car Qualifies?

There is a California lemon law time limit to consider if you want to file a claim. While the defect must occur within the first 18,000 miles or 18 months from when the vehicle was purchased or leased, you have four years to file the claim.

To start the lemon law process, you want to gather all of the necessary documents to back up your claim. These documents include:

  • Purchase or lease agreement
  • Repair orders and estimates
  • Record of communication with dealership staff and the manufacturer (make sure to include the date, time, person’s name and the result of the communication)

Once you’ve gathered these documents, we recommend speaking with a qualified lemon law lawyer. A demand letter needs to be sent to the manufacturer and the response is generally better when an attorney is involved. A lemon law lawyer protects consumers from being taken advantage of and they can substantially increase the payout that’s received.

How To Find the Right Lemon Lawyer?

While a good lemon law attorney can be found by asking friends and family for recommendations, there are some other options to consider. For starters, we recommend checking with the Better Business Bureau (BBB) to see the lawyer’s ratings. In today’s digital age, you can also learn a lot about an attorney by reading online reviews.

The next consideration to think about is the cost of the lawyer. You want to pay reasonable attorney fees under California lemon law. With The Lemon Pros, we offer a free consultation so there’s no upfront cost. We can also get the manufacturer to pay all of the attorney fees, which are collected when we win your case.

Because money is no longer an issue, there’s no reason to file a claim alone. Manufacturers are more likely to take the claim seriously when a lawyer is responsible for the communication. Additionally, the automaker knows that negotiations will be more difficult with an attorney.

What Are the Legal Steps To File a Lemon Law Claim

After a demand letter is sent, the vehicle’s manufacturer may request arbitration with a neutral third party. They also have the option to request that you take the vehicle to a new shop for an attempted fix, choosing adequate repair facilities that may have more experience with the same problem your car is dealing with. In some cases, it may be best to choose one of these options versus going to court, which can often be a longer process.

If the vehicle qualifies for compensation, a good lawyer won’t stop until you receive the payout you deserve. After all, no one should be left with a defective car. Both you and your attorney need to determine the plan that’s right for your needs.

Consumer Rights and Protections in California

Consumer Rights and Protections in California

Lemon law applies to a new vehicle, leased vehicles and pre-owned vehicles with a written warranty. Beyond lemon law, consumers have access to other protections. For example, a complaint can be filed with the California Department of Motor Vehicles (DMV) if there has been original warranty fraud or negligence. We also recommend filing with the state’s Attorney General.

Federal laws further support California lemon law in the following ways:

Magnuson-Moss Warranty Act requires manufacturers to offer detailed and clear warranty terms.

Federal Trade Commission (FTC) Regulations guide the advertising and sales practices of businesses.

National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) sets the safety standards for vehicles and investigates any safety-related defects.

Want To File a Lemon Law Claim?

If you drive a lemon car, you have the right to compensation. While there are certain guidelines required for the vehicle to be considered a lemon, a team of professionals can help you wade through the legal jargon. Before attempting to file a claim on your own, it’s best to consult a qualified attorney.

Contact a lemon car lawyer in California to secure the maximum compensation possible. With our team’s expertise and commitment to your case, you can come out on top, as did the thousands of clients we’ve helped before you. Your free lemon law consultation is waiting. We have the tools necessary to get you a lemon law buyback.

Trust the best with your case and call our Lemon Law Attorney Practice in Beverly Hills.

Call us today for a free consultation before time runs out to pursue your claim.

Phone: (800) 917-7147


Why Choose The Lemon Pros?

Our specialty is Lemon Law, that is why we only handle Lemon Law claims. When you hire us, our attorneys will do all the legal work for you, because we understand the stress that consumers like you deal with when they have a Lemon.

We have an excellent success record in representing consumers just like you! We are award winning attorneys, but that has not gotten to our heads. We are attorneys who care and give personalized attention to each and every client, our attorneys directly handle your claim.

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