top of page

Lemon Law for New Cars in California

Purchasing a new vehicle should be an exciting time and no one wants to spoil the occasion by thinking about lemons. However, sometimes things don't work out as planned, and being aware of your new car lemon law rights can be invaluable.

White Mercedes

What is The Lemon Law in California?

The automotive industry is booming in the Golden State, and Los Angeles has long been the epicenter of producing some of America's most celebrated motor vehicles such as Ford, Chrysler, and Willys-Overland Jeeps, just to name a few. Unsurprisingly, there is no shortage of new car sales in the County and fortunately, California's consumer protection laws are one of the most robust and comprehensive in the US.

The lemon law is a state and federal law that provides protection to consumers who purchase vehicles, and other consumer goods, that fail to meet quality and performance standards. Also known as The Song-Beverly Consumer Act, the California lemon law was designed to protect consumers who purchase a defective vehicle. The CA lemon law also applies to newly leased vehicles and in some cases even to used vehicles.

When Do California Lemon Laws Apply?

The California lemon law applies when a vehicle presents substantial defects that affect the overall safety, purpose, and value of the car. The California lemon law speculates that if the vehicle can not be fixed after a reasonable number of repair attempts by the manufacturer or authorized dealer, the automobile manufacturer must offer a replacement car or repurchase the vehicle.

Which Vehicles are Covered Under the California Lemon Law?

The California lemon law covers hatchbacks, sedans, vans, SUVs, pick-up trucks, chassis, drive trains of motorhomes, and motorcycles. These are generally vehicles that are purchased or leased new, primarily for personal, family, or domestic use. Many vehicles that are purchased or leased for business use also fall under the state's lemon law.

What is Not Covered Under the California Lemon Law?

It is important to note that there are some vehicles that fall outside of California's lemon law remit. These include vehicles that have been modified with aftermarket parts, such as van conversion, vehicles that have been abused, or that are not registered under the California Vehicle Code, such as off-road cars.

Read our full guide about what qualifies as a lemon in California.

In CA Lemon Law, the Original Warranty is the Key

The lemon law in California covers vehicles that are still under the original manufacturer's warranty, certified pre-owned warranty or possess a dealer's written warranty or extended warranty. In the case of a defective car, if a manufacturer or authorized dealership is unable or unwilling to fix the same substantial defect after a reasonable number of repair attempts, or when a vehicle has been in the repair shop for a total of 30 days or more within the first 18 months of its delivery date, there is scope for a lemon law case.

What is Lemon Law Presumption?

The Lemon Law Presumption is a legal assumption that something is true if certain criteria are met and certain facts are true and present. California’s lemon law offers a presumption that a purchased or leased new vehicle is classified as exceeding a reasonable number of repair attempts if it has had two or more repair attempts for the same serious safety defect that could cause serious injury or death within the first 18 months or 18,000 miles from its delivery date, or been out of service for at least 30 days within 18 months or 18,000 miles from its delivery date. Additionally, if it has had four or more repair attempts or been out of service for 30 days for a non-safety defect during this same period of 18 months or 18,000 miles then California law also presumes that it has exceeded a reasonable number of repair attempts. This means that once you can prove these two criteria, the court will assume the car qualifies as a lemon and requires proving little else.

It is important to remember that to qualify for relief under the Lemon Law, you must prove that the car had a defect in materials or workmanship that occurred during the warranty and you still have not been able to resolve the issue after multiple repair attempts.

What Qualifies as a Serious Safety Defect?

A serious safety defect can be described as a substantial problem that is covered by the vehicle warranty that compromises a vehicle's safety by exposing the occupants to death or serious injury. This includes things like faulty brakes, engine stalling, malfunctioning steering or transmission, failure of the safety restraint system components, or onboard computer issues for instance.

What to Do if You Think Your New Car is a Lemon?

If you believe that your new vehicle qualifies as a lemon under the state's law, and it is still within its warranty period, the first thing to do is to report the issues to your car manufacturer or certified car dealer. Don't take your new car to a noncertified or unauthorized auto repair shop because you may risk forfeiting your original warranty.

Next, you need to gather together the substantial documentation you will need to support your case. This will include your valid written warranty, purchase documents, manufacturer's or dealer's service contract, service orders and details of the substantial problem your car is experiencing, and documentation referring to the attempted repairs by the manufacturer or certified dealer.

Getting Legal Help With Your Lemon Law Claim

If your new car does qualify under California's Lemon Law and you are considering filing a claim for relief, it is highly recommended that you hire an experienced California Lemon Law attorney who specializes in lemon law to ensure your rights are fully protected. An experienced lawyer can offer you a free case evaluation, determine whether your car meets all the legal requirements, and advise you on how best to proceed with seeking compensation or a replacement vehicle.

In conclusion, being aware of your rights under California’s lemon laws can save you time, money, and hassle if your new car turns out to be a lemon. With the help of an experienced lemon law attorney, you can rest assured that your case is in expert hands.

What is the Statue of Limitations in CA Lemon Law?

Under California Lemon Law, the statute of limitations is a time limit for filing a lemon law claim for new cars. In California, the time limit is four years to file a lawsuit in court from when you first became aware of the warranty defects. After this time, it is not possible to pursue legal action against the carmaker for a defective vehicle.

It is important to note that your warranty period on your new car may be less than four years, and for the lemon law to apply you must have first presented the issues to the manufacturer or its authorized dealer to provide an opportunity to repair it before the end of your warranty period.

Why Choose The Beck Lemon Office to Represent You?

Our skilled lawyers at The Beck Lemon Office have the experience and competence to represent you against vehicle manufacturers and dealerships and you can have full confidence in their expertise to succeed in your lemon law claim.

Our firm has a decade of experience in successfully applying lemon law protection to hundreds of claims in and around Los Angeles and the state of California. The individualized and personalized approach used by our experienced law attorneys makes the legal process less intimidating for our customers. Our carefully crafted process helps our customers to get to know their lemon law attorney and learn about our extensive experience and common sense approach. We pride ourselves on going the extra mile for our clients and ensuring that they receive the compensation they deserve.

Contact Us Today

If you think your new car may be a lemon, don't hesitate to contact us for a free consultation. We will readily review your case and advise you of your legal options and discuss with you where California lemon law applies.

Let us help you get the justice you deserve in a quick, friendly, and efficient manner.

bottom of page