Lemon Law
in California

Lemon Car Law in California

A purchaser or lessee of a motor vehicle has various rights under both state and federal law if the vehicle does not perform as provided under an express warranty. Warranty law can be complex, and it is impossible to describe comprehensively all of the law in a brief space. The following comments briefly explain the Song-Beverly Consumer Warranty Act and what is popularly known as the “Lemon Law.”

The California Attorney General recommends that you contact your own lawyer who can best advise you of your rights under the particular circumstances of your case. We can can help you if you have purchased a lemon in the state of California.


What Is the California Lemon Law?

The Tanner Consumer Protection Act of California, commonly referred to as the “California Lemon Law,” gives consumers the right to their money back or a new car if their vehicle cannot be repaired after a reasonable number of attempts.

The California Lemon law, is a section within the Song-Beverly Consumer Warranty Act that deals specifically with motor vehicles and it was designed to protect and give power to consumers in the event that they purchased a new or used car still under manufacturer warranty, motorcycle, motorhome chassis, or practically any vehicle that was discovered to be defective or chronically broken down.

There are numerous ways in which the California Lemon Law keeps lemon cars off the road and consumers behind the wheels of cars they can rely on; unfortunately, it is these many nuances of the lemon law that causes confusion and misconceptions among consumers. To learn more about the lemon law in California, browse our California Lemon Law Resource Center below or contact to discuss your case.


The Song-Beverly Consumer Warranty Act (beginning with Civil Code section 1790) provides protection for consumers who lease or buy new motor vehicles. The law requires that if the manufacturer or its representative in this state, such as an authorized dealer, is unable to service or repair a new motor vehicle to meet the terms of an express written warranty after a reasonable number of repair attempts, the manufacturer is required promptly to replace the vehicle or return the purchase price to the lessee or buyer. The purchase price that must be returned includes the price paid for manufacturer-installed items and transportation but does not include the price paid for nonmanufacturer items installed by the dealer. The lessee or buyer is completely free to choose whether to accept a replacement or a refund. Whatever the choice, the manufacturer is also responsible to pay for sales or use tax; license, registration, and other official fees; and incidental damages that the lessee or buyer may have incurred such as finance charges, repair, towing, and rental car costs.

The lessee or buyer may be charged for the use of the vehicle regardless of whether the vehicle is replaced or the purchase price is refunded. The amount that may be charged for use is determined by multiplying the actual price of the new vehicle by a fraction having as its denominator 120,000 and as its numerator the number of miles traveled by the vehicle before it was first brought in for correction of the problem. For example, if the car had traveled 6,000 miles before it was first brought in for correction of the problem, the lessee or buyer could be charged 5% (6,000/120,000 = 5%) of the purchase price for usage.

How Long The Law Applies?

The law applies for the entire period of your warranty. For example, if your vehicle is covered by a three-year warranty and you discover a defect after two years, the manufacturer will have to replace the vehicle or reimburse you as outlined above if the manufacturer or its representative is unable to conform the vehicle to the express warranty after a reasonable number of attempts to do so.

Song-Beverly does not apply if the problem was caused by abuse after the vehicle was delivered. Be sure you follow the terms of the warranty for maintenance and proper use of the vehicle.

Although there is a four-year statute of limitations to bring a law suit for breach of warranty or for violations of Song-Beverly, you should act promptly to try to resolve the problem fairly and quickly without legal action if possible.

How Long Does the Lemon Law Process Take?

Navigating a lemon law claim may seem daunting, but understanding the process can make a significant difference. The timeline for resolving a lemon law claim can vary, with some cases settling in as little as 30 days. However, a longer timeframe is more common, particularly for complex cases.

In some situations, escalating to legal proceedings may be necessary, especially when encountering resistance from the manufacturer. Fortunately, many manufacturers prefer to negotiate a settlement to avoid litigation.

Despite a manufacturer’s readiness to settle, negotiations frequently involve careful consideration, which can extend the settlement timeline beyond a month.

Who is Protected by The Lemon Law in California?

People buying and leasing new and gently used vehicles in California are legally protected against “lemons” — cars, trucks and other automobiles that have persistent, hard-to-fix mechanical problems. These cars are either sold to trusting consumers by dealers eager to get rid of “lemons,” or sold by manufacturers who aren’t aware of their flaws but refuse to refund the buyer’s money even though it’s required by law.

Who Is Covered?

The State of California protects its citizens with “lemon laws,” more formally known as the Song-Beverly Consumer Warranty Act and the Tanner Consumer Protection Act.

The law applies to a new motor vehicle that is bought or used primarily for personal, family or household purposes. The law also applies to a new motor vehicle with a gross vehicle weight under 10,000 pounds that is bought or used primarily for business purposes by a person, including a partnership, limited liability company, corporation, association, or any other legal entity, to which not more than five motor vehicles are registered in this state.

California lemon law covers the following new and used vehicles with the manufacturer’s new vehicle warranty:

  • Demonstrators and dealer-owned vehicles
  • Cars bought or leased for personal, household, or family reasons
  • Vehicles purchased or hired for commercial reasons
  • Cars, vans, pick-up trucks, and SUVs
  • Chassis, chassis cab, and drivetrain of a motorhome

If the dealership or the manufacturer can’t fix a defect after a reasonable number of repair attempts, the manufacturer must either replace the vehicle or buy back the defective car.

The Manufacturer Warranty

Like most retailers of consumer products in California, auto dealers must provide manufacturer’s and retailer’s warranties to the buyer in clear language. If the vehicle doesn’t live up to these warranties, the buyer has the right to get it fixed at the manufacturer’s expense, at a reasonably close repair shop. If it can’t be fixed after a reasonable number of attempts, the buyer is legally entitled to a free replacement or a full refund, plus payments covering costs like a rental car, towing and other side effects of buying a lemon. This applies to new cars and used cars that are still under the manufacturer’s original warranty. A judge or arbitrator ultimately decides what’s a reasonable number of repair attempts, but the law says the time for repairs is over when, after the first 18 months or 18,000 miles:

  • There have been at least two unsuccessful attempts to repair a problem that makes the vehicle unsafe to use.
  • The manufacturer or its agents have tried unsuccessfully to fix the same problem four or more times.
  • The vehicle has been out of service for more than 30 combined days because of repairs — that is, it’s in the shop more than it’s on the road.

While the 18-month/18,000 mile is a useful guideline, your rights don’t end after 18 months. You can use your warranty for its entire life, which varies according to manufacturer, and you have at least four years from the first warranty repair to bring a lemon law claim.


What Is Considered A New Motor Vehicle by The Law?

The law discussed above applies to “new motor vehicles.” (Certain limited protection may apply to used vehicles as described in Section 2.) The term “new motor vehicle” includes not only new motor vehicles but also demonstrators; the chassis, chassis cab, and propulsion system of a new motor home; and any other motor vehicle sold with a manufacturer’s new car warranty. For example, a two-year old used car sold with the remaining one year portion of a manufacturer’s three-year new car warranty would be treated as a new motor vehicle. The term “new motor vehicle,” however, does not include motorcycles or exclusively off-road vehicles.

Coverage For Vehicles That Are Not “New”

Although the special provisions discussed above apply to new motor vehicles, Song-Beverly has many general rules that apply to any consumer product sold with an express written warranty. As a result, there is important coverage for motorcycles, the living quarters of a mobile home, used vehicles sold with a dealer’s express written warranty, “lemon” vehicles repurchased by the manufacturer and sold to consumers with an express written warranty covering the defect, and vehicles sold with a service contract.

A full description of warranty rights is beyond the scope of this message, but you should be aware that coverage is not identical to the coverage for new motor vehicles. For example, a warrantor who is unable to conform a consumer product to its express warranty within a reasonable number of attempts is required to replace the goods or refund the purchase price less an amount attributable to the consumer’s use. Unlike the special rules on new motor vehicles, however, there is no set formula for determining the charge for the consumer’s use before the discovery of the defect, and the Lemon Law presumption does not apply.

For complete advice concerning your legal rights, please call our office so we can provide you the information you need. We have helped hundreds of victims of lemon laws with a 99% success rate! Contact us today for more information.

Unfortunately, consumers who meet one of these criteria can’t count on automatically receiving a replacement or refund for their lemons. Sellers have the right to dispute your claim when you try to exercise your rights under the California lemon law, and they probably will. If they think fighting the law will be cheaper than following it, sellers will argue that your defect wasn’t substantial, the repairs worked, or that other circumstances allow them to wiggle out of paying you. For that reason, many people with lemon law claims end up filing a lawsuit. Consumers who are offered shoddy repairs, incomplete refunds or replacement vehicles that aren’t comparable can also file a lemon lawsuit.


What Is A Reasonable Number Of Repair Attempts?

What is considered a reasonable number of repair attempts will depend on the circumstances including the seriousness of the defect. For example, one or two repair attempts may be considered reasonable for serious safety defects such as brake failure, depending on the exact situation.

A special provision, often called the “Lemon Law,” helps determine what is a reasonable number of repair attempts for problems that substantially impair the use, value, or safety of the vehicle.

The “Lemon Law” applies to these problems if they arise during the first 18 months after the consumer received delivery of the vehicle or within the first 18,000 miles on the odometer, whichever occurs first. During the first 18 months or 18,000 miles, the “Lemon Law” presumes that a manufacturer has had a reasonable number of attempts to repair the vehicle if either

  • The same problem results in a condition that is likely to cause death or serious bodily injury if the vehicle is driven and the problem has been subject to repair two or more times by the manufacturer or its agents, and the buyer or lessee has at least once directly notified the manufacturer of the need for the repair of the problem as provided in the warranty or owner’s manual
  • The same problem has been subject to repair four or more times by the manufacturer or its agents and the buyer has at least once directly notified the manufacturer of the need for the repair of the problem as provided in the warranty or owner’s manual
  • The vehicle is out of service because of the repair of any number of problems by the manufacturer or its agents for a cumulative total of more than 30 days since delivery of the vehicle.

How to Determine if a Manufacturer Has Made a ‘’Reasonable Number ‘’ of Repair Attempts

Before a judge or arbitrator approves a lemon law claim, the parties involved must demonstrate that the manufacturer made a ‘’reasonable number’’ of repair attempts to fix the defect. The question to the above question depends on the severity of the fault and the circumstances of each case.

For instance, an automaker has a limited opportunity to fix a defect that endangers the lives of the driver and vehicle occupants. On the other hand, the manufacturer has a larger window to solve a general flaw that annoys.

Generally, an automaker has a limited window to fix a defect; a consumer can initiate a lemon law claim if the vehicle spends more than a month in the repair shop.

Ultimately, California lemon law has set no number.

California lemon law presumption applies to vehicles bought in California that develop defects within 18 months or 18,000 miles, whichever comes first.

The Lemon Law Presumption

The “Lemon Law” presumption is a guide, not an absolute rule. A judge or arbitrator can assume that the manufacturer has had a reasonable number of chances to repair the vehicle if all of the conditions are met. The manufacturer, however, has the right to try to prove that it should have the chance to attempt additional repairs, and the consumer has the right to show that fewer repair attempts are reasonable under the circumstances.

Written Notices to Manufacturers

Be sure to check your warranty and owner’s manual for instructions. You may be required to directly notify the manufacturer of the problem(s). It is a good idea to send your written notice to the manufacturer at the address shown in the warranty or owner’s manual by certified mail, return receipt requested so that you have proof that your letter was received. Keep a copy of all correspondence.

If the manufacturer maintains a state-certified arbitration program, the consumer must submit the warranty dispute to the arbitration program before the consumer can take advantage of the presumption in court. Arbitration is an alternative to court proceedings. The consumer may assert the presumption during arbitration. Information about any arbitration should be described in the warranty or owner’s manual.

Not every manufacturer maintains a state certified program. You should check with the Department of Consumer Affairs’ Arbitration Certification Program Llámenos Para Una Consulta Gratuita at (800) 952-5210 or on the Internet at You can also ask for the department’s free pamphlet that explains more about arbitration, “Lemon Aid for Consumers.”


How the California Lemon Law Can Help You Get the Compensation You Deserve

If your recently-purchased truck has been experiencing defects that aren’t going away, despite repair efforts, you may be entitled to due compensation from the manufacturer. The California Lemon Law and auto fraud experts at are dedicated to making sure that car buyers who have purchased Lemons get the money or replacement vehicles they deserve. Our expert California Lemon attorneys have helped thousands of clients over the years, with an industry-topping 99% success rate. Our legal team has years of combined experience, and they will fight to ensure that you receive full compensation for your purchase.


Why You Should Pursue Your CA Lemon Law Case

If you’ve purchased a truck that is still under warranty, be it new or used, and one or more defects have popped up that can’t seem to be fixed despite a number of repair attempts, you might be eligible, under California Law, to:

  • Receive a complete purchase refund, including registration fees, down payment, financing costs, and more
  • Receive a replacement vehicle from the manufacturer
  • File a Civil Complaint against the manufacturer
  • Have the full balance of your car loan paid off
  • And possibly more

The benefits that are due to the consumer under California State Lemon Law vary from case to case. To find out what you may be entitled to, call us today for a FREE case evaluation.


How An Experienced Legal Team Can Help You

Why is it a good idea to have an experienced California Lemon attorney on your side when you file your Lemon Law claim? For starters, without the help of a qualified legal team, you are almost certain to have a hard time dealing with the dealership or manufacturer that sold you the Lemon. Whether you’ve purchased a car, truck or RV, chances are that the dealer who sold it to you will refuse to admit that the vehicle is a Lemon. Trying to make your case to them on your own will probably result in you simply being ignored, the same way they’ll likely ignore any requests for due compensation.

Having a knowledgeable legal team on your side means that your case will get made effectively and right away. An experienced CA Lemon Law attorney knows how Lemon Law cases work and will make the manufacturers pay attention to your case immediately. Enlisting the aid of a legal team also means that you won’t have to fill out all the paperwork involved nor have to make court appearances on your own. And best of all, your lawyers will deal with the manufacturers and dealerships on your behalf.

The Expertise of

With years of Lemon Law experience under our belt, we know the ins and outs of California Lemon Law and can get you the reimbursement you deserve, guaranteed. Having handled hundreds of Lemon Law cases, we’ve become familiar with every car manufacturer in the State and know how to deal with their legal teams effectively. If you want the best legal representation in the industry for your case, give us a call and schedule your free consultation today. Other benefits you’ll get when working with include:

  • No Legal Fees – All your hourly legal fees are paid by the defendant after your case has been won.
  • FREE Phone Advice Whenever You Need It – At our CA Lemon Law attorneys are available to answer any question you might have over the phone, for FREE.
  • Minimal to Zero Court Dates Required ­­­– Because we have an aggressive reputation in the Lemon Law industry, most manufacturers and dealerships we file cases against prefer 99% of the time to settle the dispute out of court. This means that, in all likelihood, you will never have to deal with court dates at all for the duration of your case. And in the unlikely event that a court appearance is required, we are fully qualified and prepared to go to court on your behalf.

Call Us For a Free Lemon Law Consultation

Don’t wait any longer; if you suspect you’ve purchased a Lemon and want to determine if you’re eligible for compensation under California State Lemon Law, contact the Lemon Law experts today for a free consultation. If you’ve bought a problematic truck, schedule your consultation now.



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