California Lemon Law FAQs
Are you entitled to a replacement vehicle, refund, or cash settlement under California’s Lemon Law? Read these FAQs to find out what you need to know:
What is the California Lemon Law?
The California Lemon Law is a state law that provides important protections to California residents who purchase or lease vehicles that have substantial defects. Formally known as the Song-Beverly Consumer Warranty Act, the law holds vehicle manufacturers financially responsible when they sell or lease vehicles that cannot be repaired with a reasonable number of attempts or after a reasonable amount of time spent at the dealership.
What can I recover if my vehicle qualifies under the California Lemon Law?
If your vehicle qualifies under the California Lemon Law, you have three primary options.
The first option is to obtain a replacement vehicle. If you choose this option, the dealership must provide you with the same make and model with substantially the same options you selected initially.
The second option is to obtain a refund. If you choose this option, the dealership must refund your down payment and any monthly payments along with any financing, registration, service, or other fees you paid. In addition, the dealership must refund your taxes and pay off your remaining loan or lease balance.
The third option is to obtain a cash settlement. If you choose this option, your lawyer will negotiate a fair settlement on your behalf.
What about attorneys' fees?
The California Lemon Law requires manufacturers to pay purchasers’ and lessees’ legal fees. As a result, it costs you nothing to hire an attorney for your California Lemon Law claim.
How do I know if my vehicle qualifies under the California Lemon Law?
California’s Lemon Law has several eligibility requirements. While meeting a specific set of requirements establishes a presumption that you are entitled to a remedy under the law, there are other ways to establish your legal rights as well. The easiest way to determine if your vehicle qualifies under the California Lemon Law is to discuss your situation with a local attorney.
What is a "reasonable number" of attempts in California?
What constitutes a “reasonable number” of attempts depends on the specific issue at hand. For example, the California Lemon Law says that a vehicle may be deemed a lemon if the dealership is unable to repair a severe safety problem after two or more attempts. However, for non-safety-related issues, purchasers and lessees must make at least three attempts in most cases.
What is a "substantial" defect?
A defect is considered “substantial” under the California Lemon Law if it impairs your ability to use your vehicle or if it impairs the value or the safety of your car.
Does the California Lemon Law apply to used vehicles?
The California Lemon Law applies to used vehicles in some cases. For example, if you purchased your vehicle used from a dealership when it was still covered under a manufacturer warranty, then you qualify for protection under the law.
Does the California Lemon Law apply to lease vehicles?
The California Lemon Law applies to both purchased and leased vehicles.
What is the Lemon Law process in California?
The Lemon Law process is complicated, and you can make costly mistakes if you aren’t careful. Since you can hire an attorney for free, the best way to approach the process is to hire an attorney who can file your claim and deal with the dealership and manufacturer on your behalf.