California Lemon Law FAQs
What is the Lemon Law?
The Lemon Law in California is a law that is covered by the Song Beverly Consumer Warranty Act. This law provides consumer protection to people who purchase or lease new motor vehicles in the state of California that come with warranties. Under this law, manufacturers are held liable for vehicles that turn out to have defects in violation of their warranties.
HOW CAN I TELL IF I HAVE A LEMON?
Your car qualifies as a lemon if the defect it has cannot be fixed within a reasonable number of repair attempts. A reasonable number of repair attempts is defined as four or more times, or two or more times for serious defects that can cause severe injury or death. Your vehicle may also qualify as a lemon if it has been inoperable for at least 30 days because of a defect.
WHAT TYPES OF VEHICLES ARE COVERED?
Any motor vehicle that is sold in California and that comes with a warranty is covered by the Lemon Law, including cars and trucks. The Lemon Law also covers the chassis of a motor home, but not the living quarters. The law excludes vehicles that are used off-road, such as ATVs and some motorcycles, but it still covers motorcycles that are registered for highway use.
WHAT IF I BOUGHT MY VEHICLE OUT OF STATE?
If you bought your vehicle out of state, unfortunately you are not covered by the California Lemon Law. However, you may be covered by the Lemon Law in the state you bought your vehicle in.
WHAT IF MY VEHICLE WAS SERVICED OUT OF STATE?
If your vehicle was purchased or leased in California, it is covered under the California Lemon Law no matter where it was serviced or received repairs.
DO LEASED & USED VEHICLES QUALIFY?
Leased vehicles are covered by the Lemon Law because they should come with a warranty. Your used car is covered under the Lemon Law if it is still covered by the manufacturer's warranty, or if you received a dealer warranty or extended service contract upon purchase.
WHAT IF I DON'T HAVE A MANUFACTURER'S WARRANTY?
If you do not have a manufacturer's warranty for your vehicle, you will still be covered under the lemon law if you received another type of warranty from the dealer who sold you your vehicle. However, if your vehicle is no longer under any warranty, you are not covered under the Lemon Law.
WHAT IF THE VEHICLE IS FOR BUSINESS USE?
The Lemon Law covers vehicles used for business as long as they have a gross weight that is less than 10,000 pounds.
WHAT IF I BOUGHT MY VEHICLE FROM A "BUY HERE, PAY NOW" DEALERSHIP?
Fortunately, "buy here, pay now" dealerships are now required by law to provide a 30-day or 1,000 mile warranty for any vehicle that they sell or lease. This means that you are covered under the Lemon Law for 30 days or 1,000 miles after you obtain your vehicle, whichever comes first.
AM I REQUIRED TO PROVIDE THE MANUFACTURER WITH NOTIFICATION?
You are not required to notify the manufacturer of the defect, as long as the vehicle repairs have taken place at a repair facility authorized by the manufacturer's warranty.
WHAT IS ARBITRATION?
Under the Lemon Law, vehicle manufacturers are allowed to create arbitration programs. Consumers can send their vehicle complaints to the program, and the manufacturer will attempt to resolve the issue outside of litigation.
DO I HAVE TO GO THROUGH ARBITRATION FIRST?
You are not required by the law to go through arbitration before pursuing a claim against the manufacturer. If you do choose to go through arbitration, you can also reject the decision and file a formal complaint in a court of law.
WHAT IS THE STATUTE OF LIMITATIONS?
The statute of limitations is the period of time prescribed for the commencement of a legal action. This means that you must file a complaint within the proper jurisdiction within the time permitted by law. This can vary from state to state. Johnson Attorneys Group can help you determine this deadline. If the deadline is missed, you may be barred forever from proceeding with your case.
HOW MUCH COMPENSATION CAN I RECEIVE?
If you purchased your vehicle, you can expect to receive either a replacement vehicle or a repurchase. If your vehicle is repurchased, the manufacturer will refund the full purchase price (minus a deduction for use) as well as any collateral charges or incidental damages.