The California Lemon
Law (officially known as the Song-Beverly Consumer Warranty act, found
in California Civil Code sections 1790 et seq.) is a law designed to
protect consumers who purchase or lease warranted motor vehicles. If
it is determined that a motor vehicle is a "lemon," the
motor vehicle's warrantor must repurchase or replace the motor vehicle
from the buyer.
In order to have a
valid Lemon Law claim, the following elements must be met:
1.) The vehicle
must be used some of the time for personal, family or household
purposes. If a vehicle is used exclusively for business purposes, the
Lemon Law will not apply, but other laws may provide certain remedies.
2.) The vehicle
must have problems covered by a warranty. There is a simple rule: no
warranty means no Lemon Law case.
3.) The warrantor must be unable to repair the vehicle's warranty problems after a reasonable number of repair attempts. What constitutes a reasonable number of repair attempts will vary depending on the problem. For example, if a vehicle's brakes fail, two repair attempts may be enough to establish a reasonable number. Generally, safety-related or drivability concerns will require fewer repair attempts than those which are not safety-related or affect drivability. However, only one unsuccessful repair attempt is never sufficient to establish a lemon law claim.
Also relevant to
determining whether there has been a reasonable number of repair
attempts is the number of days the vehicle is out-of-service due to
warranty repairs. The more days out-of-service, the better the chance
of establishing a reasonable number of repair attempts.
There is a common
misconception concerning the Lemon Law, that it only applies to
vehicles that are less than 18 months old and have less than 18,000
miles. This belief is not true! The Lemon Law will apply to a vehicle
regardless of how old it is or how many miles is has, so long as the
vehicle is having problems that are under warranty.
Even if the warranty
has expired, the Lemon Law may apply. If the vehicle is still having
problems that were complained about and never properly repaired during
the warranty period, a valid Lemon Law claim may exist.
4.) The vehicle
must contain a problem covered by the warranty that substantially
impairs the vehicle's use, value or safety to the buyer/lessee. The
Lemon Law, generally, will not apply to vehicles with trivial or minor
defects. Nevertheless, each case must be judged independently taking
into account the particular needs and expectations of the particular
If the above mentioned
elements are met, the vehicle is a lemon. The vehicle's owner/lessee
will be entitled to a replacement vehicle or a refund of the vehicle's
Call anywhere from
California: 1-800-CA-LEMON (1-800-225-3666)