Lemon Law Process in California

The lemon law process is very similar state-to-state since one of the most used lemon laws is a federal statute called the Magnuson–Moss Warranty Act. Let’s examine a typical journey from car purchase to lemon buyback

Day 1: Buy a Car

Regardless of the kind of new vehicle you purchase, there is a manufacturer’s warranty that comes with the purchase. For example, Kia’s manufacturer warranty covers the vehicle up to 60,000 miles.

Around day 23: You Notice a Problem

You’re shutting the car’s back hatch one day. It appears to be closed, but the “open door” light on your dashboard says otherwise. What if the hatch pops open while you’re driving, even though it is staying down by itself right now? Stressed out, you make it over to the dealership. They look at your car and say it was a problem with the “open door” light, which they have manually turned off. 

In a lemon law case, it is crucial that you save all of your service records and that you have the car serviced by the warranty-authorized mechanic or technician.

Around day 26: The Problem is Back

You assume that you must not have shut the back hatch all the way, and you pull over when you see the “open door” light pop on again and get out to re-shut it. That “open door” light is still on. You take the car back to the dealership.

This time a different mechanic at the dealership says this was actually not caused by a faulty light. The hatch is actually not shutting. He uses the rear windshield wiper as a handle and pulls the seemingly shut hatch open. He will recalibrate the correct angle of the locking mechanism and that should fix it for good.

Around day 27: The Next Morning

You go out to the car in the morning, ready to head to work. You realize the battery is dead from the trunk light staying on all night because, yes, the car did not register the hatch as being shut again. You bring the car back to the dealer for the third time. The mechanic tells you the locking mechanisms are tricky to calibrate just right and that sometimes it can take a few attempts. He repairs the mechanism again, but you now live in constant fear of the car being stolen because you never know if it’s 100% locked or if the hatch will fly open on the freeway.

As you are reaching out to, the “open door” light comes back on. The lawyer asks you to provide these documents in order to review your case for free:

Around day 29: The Lawyer Tells You that You Have a Case

Your new car is now permanently parked in the garage, and you are stuck carpooling, Ubering, and borrowing your husband’s truck. Your lemon law attorney tells you that you have a case, and she sends a letter to the manufacturer with the details of your situation.

Around day 64: The Car Manufacturer Responds

The law requires that you must have the same car problem fixed about 2-4 times before it becomes a “lemon.” Check—you qualify. The manufacturer responds and offers to swap your car for another one of the same make and model. Your lawyer responds “no” and continues to pressure them for a full buyback and to reimburse your Uber fees.

Around day 88: The Manufacturer Agrees to Buy Back Your Car

From reaching a settlement agreement to actually being relieved of the lemon takes time. The bureaucratic “wheels” of car manufacturer lemon buybacks turn slowly.

 Around day 117: Finally!

You receive a full refund for the lemon (plus Uber fees), which is now off your property and out of your hair. Car shopping begins again.

Need a California Lemon Law Attorney? 

If you are somewhere around Day 27 of this journey, then it’s time to reach out to us for a free case review. Remember to submit all necessary documents. We’ll be in touch soon.

Valerie G. Fernandez Campbell

Valerie G. Fernandez Campbell, known as The Lemon Law Lady, has dedicated her entire legal career to the specialized field of Lemon Law, a journey that began immediately after her
graduation from UCLA School of Law.

With a 99% success rate and a policy of no fees unless you win, her practice stands as a testament to her expertise in California’s Lemon Law, her commitment to her clients, and her unwavering dedication to justice and consumer rights.

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Happy to hear from you. I was very pleased with the service you provided. I couldn’t be happier. The timing was excellent. I retired June 1st and didn’t really need the car anymore. I didn’t go out and buy another car. I decided to hang on to my money for a while.


“Great Help and Great Service”

Valerie did a fantastic job handling my lawsuit. She was in constant contact with me, she was honest and kept me informed every step of the way. I appreciate her great help and her great service and I would definitely use her again and recommend her to anybody out there that needs help.


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I am beyond satisfied. After being told that I did not have a case by other attorneys, I was referred to Ms. Campbell and I am so glad I called her. During the initial consultation, Ms. Campbell was very thorough and answered all of my concerns. She assured me that this was not an overnight fix, however, it took less than three (3) months to resolve. Ms. Campbell was available every step of the way. I rarely called or emailed her because she always kept me in the loop. Every case is different but I am glad mine was quick and painless. I would recommend LemonLaw123 to anyone without any reservations. I could not have asked for better representation. Thank you!!!!


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Valerie C. is an amazing attorney who is extremely experienced in the area of Lemon Law. As a fellow attorney, she earned my respect as an experienced litigator who never settled for anything less than the best for her clients. I recommend Lemon Law 123 to my family and friends as I know she will give them the care, attention, and legal expertise every client deserves. You will get the best results with the Lemon Law 123 team.



This page has been written, edited, and reviewed by a team of legal writers following our comprehensive editorial guidelines. This page was approved by attorney Valerie G. Fernandez Campbell, personally handled over 500 lemon law cases and settlements.