What cars does California's Lemon Law apply to?

California's lemon law covers all types of motor vehicles sold with a manufacturer's warranty in California. This includes vehicles that are purchased or leased. This includes cars, trucks, vans, buses and the part of a motor home that functions as a vehicle (not the part used for habitation). Vehicles intended for off-road use, like ATVs and “dirt bikes,” are not covered but you still have protection under the Song-Beverly Consumer Warranty Act.

What type of car problems does California Lemon Law apply to?

This is what is great! California's Lemon Law applies to all problems. Small or big. So if your brakes don't work, for example, you are protected. If your window doesn't work right either, you are also protected.

How does the Lemon Law help me?

California's lemon law is on your side. The law says that if you give the manufacturer of your vehicle a reasonable number of attempts to repair a problem with your vehicle and they don't fix it, you are entitled to a new vehicle or your money back. Also, if your car is in service too long and the problem is not fixed, you are entitled to a new vehicle or your money back.

Does California's Lemon Law apply to new cars?

Yes. It applies to the first 18 months you have owned your vehicle, or until your car mileage reaches 18,000 miles on your car, whichever comes first.

I bought my car more than 18 months ago, or it has more than 18,000 miles on it. Can I still make a Lemon Law claim?

Yes! As long as the manufacturer's warranty on your car still applies, the Lemon Law protects you. These warranties are different, and depend on who your car's manufacturer is. Typically, though, they range from two to five years, and 24,000 to 60,000 miles.

If your car was bought more than 18 months ago or has more than 18,000 miles on it, though, it cannot be presumed to be a lemon. This doesn't mean it can't be a lemon under California's Lemon Law. It just means that it will be more difficult to show that it's a lemon.

My car is used. That means I can't use the Lemon Law to get my money back, right?

Not at all! Just because you bought the vehicle used does not mean that the manufacturer's warranty is void. So long as the manufacturer's warranty still applies to your vehicle, you can make a Lemon Law claim. However, sometimes used cars have had work done on them that voids the warranty, so that's something to keep in mind.

My dealer told me that my car isn't a lemon. What can I do?

Don't believe what the dealer tells you. They do not have your interest in mind. If you think you have a lemon, call TheLemonLawyer.com toll free at 1-844-CAR-PROBS.

How much can I recover?

If you have a lemon under California Lemon Law, you can get all your money back from the manufacturer. ALL YOUR MONEY. This includes your down payment, all payments made and the balance of the loan to pay off the vehicle. The only deduction that may be taken from this amount is a “usage offset.” A usage offset is the cost of the miles you drove before you first took your car to the dealership for repair of the problem.

How Much Will This Cost Me?

The California Lemon Law says manufacturer must pay attorney's fees if your car is determined to be a lemon. At the TheLemonLawyer.com, we will seek to get our fees paid by the manufacturer. If you have a lemon, we will demand that the manufacturer take back your car and give you a full refund. If they don't, we can represent you and file a lawsuit on your behalf against the manufacturer and will push the manufacturer to settle your case so you won't have to go to court. As a standard procedure, the settlement reached in your case will contribute to paying attorney fees. In addition, the auto manufacturer may be held responsible for court fees or attorney costs.

If I have a lemon, why do I need a lawyer? Why won't the manufacturer give me my money back?

Even if you have a lemon, you still have to prove it in court. The manufacturer is not your friend. They are not just going to give you your money back. They will fight you the whole way so they don't have to refund your money. This is why you need to call TheLemonLawyer.com, so we can fight for you. Even if you have a lemon, the manufacturer can still try to argue that it is not a lemon in court. We will try to negotiate to solve your claim without even needing to go to court.

You keep saying that there are no legal fees. How is this possible?

California's Lemon Law uses a fee shifting scheme that puts the cost of your attorney onto your manufacturer if you win. In fact, most lemon laws do this, in order to incentivize people like you to file claims to protect your rights as a consumer. Because of this, if your case wins your attorney's fees will already be covered by the other side.

I started bringing my car in for repairs while the warranty was valid, but now the warranty period has expired. Can I still file a Lemon Law claim?

Yes. As long as the defect is the one that you brought your car in to fix while the car was under warranty, then the Lemon Law still applies to your case. The Lemon Law is looking for instances where you had a defect during the warranty period. By bringing your car in to fix a defect while your vehicle was still under warranty, this is satisfied.

How many times do they get to fix the defect before my car is technically a lemon?

The car dealer or manufacturer has to be given a “reasonable” number of times to fix the problem. What's “reasonable” depends on the specific facts of your case. Typically, you have to give your car dealer or maker four chances to fix the defect. However, if the defect affects the safety of your car, you might only need to give them two chances. Additionally, if your car has been in the shop for more than 30 days, it can qualify as a lemon, as well.

How serious does the defect have to be for my car to be a lemon?

For California's Lemon Law to apply to your car, it has to have a defect that “substantially impairs” the car's “use, safety, or value.” There are lots of examples of vehicle defects that can trigger the Lemon Law by impacting one of these three things. Some obvious ones are airbag or engine defects, both of which can substantially impair the car's safety or use. However, even a defective paint job can be enough for a replacement or refund under the Lemon Law if it substantially impairs the car's value.

What if my car has multiple problems?

The California Lemon Law also applies if your vehicle is in service too long. If the manufacturer has had a total of 30 days or more to repair any number of problems with your car, that is unreasonable. So if your vehicle has been in service for a total of more than 30 days for any problems, the California Lemon Law says you have a Lemon.

What type of excuses can you expect the manufacturer to make?

In a lemon law case, manufacturers typically argue that problem is not substantial, that the motor vehicle has been repaired or that the defect(s) you complained about can't be duplicated.

How long does a Lemon Law claim take before I get my money back or a replacement vehicle?

Every case is different. However, most cases under California's Lemon Law can be dealt with completely in under 90 days, with many wrapping up in closer to 30 days.

Can the manufacturer make me take a replacement vehicle?

No. You have the legal right to choose whether you take a full refund or a replacement vehicle.

If I choose to replace my lemon, what kind of vehicle will it be?

If you get a replacement vehicle for your lemon, it'll be one of the same make, model, and equipment that were in your defective car.

What if the car I bought was sold “as is”?

If the car was sold “as is,” then there was no warranty. California's Lemon Law requires there to be a manufacturer's warranty covering the vehicle. Therefore, if there was no warranty or the car was sold “as is,” then you can't use the Lemon Law to get a refund or a replacement vehicle.

What if the defect is covered by an extended warranty?

California's Lemon Law only covers defects that are covered by a manufacturer's warranty, because those are the ones that come with the car, and don't involve a further purchase. Extended warranties involve buying additional warranty coverage, and so they are a contract, not a warranty. Therefore, California's Lemon Law does not apply if your defect falls under an extended warranty, but not the manufacturer's warranty.

What if I bought my car outside of California?

If your car was bought outside of California, then the state's Lemon Law does not apply to your vehicle, with one important exception. If you are on active military duty in California, you can use our Lemon Law to get a refund or a replacement. To do so, the manufacturer you bought the car from also has to sell cars in California, and you have to be either a California resident or be stationed in California when you either bought the car or started your Lemon Law claim.

Don't Hesitate

The longer you let your car sit in the shop, the greater the cost is to you. If you think you may have a case, get in touch with one of our attorneys today.