California Lemon Law
Most Common Questions

Frequently Asked Questions About Lemon Law

Yes. Manufacturers can afford some of the best California attorneys to fight against consumer claims and lemon laws. You should ask if the attorney that will handle your case has any experience working for manufacturers in lemon law. Does your attorney know the ins and outs, tricks and maneuvers employed by dealers, manufacturers, and their attorneys? Ask your potential attorney about this important experience. has this experience. The law firm of believes that success in winning your lemon law case is based on: 1. Education 2. Ethics 3. Experience

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When a lot of cars are mass produced by a motor vehicle manufacturer, the occasional mistake can be made, overlooked or missed by inspectors. Sometimes, a bad design can even be put into production.

If you’ve bought a car, truck, motorcycle or other motor vehicle and you got one of the “mistakes,” you have a way in California to reverse your bad luck. The State of California recognizes that their help is needed to defend your warranty rights against the large and powerful manufacturers of motor vehicles.

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They are state and federal consumer protection laws that were enacted to protect consumers from the reluctance of motor vehicle manufacturers to treat consumers in a fair and honorable manner. When your manufacturer cannot honor their warranties and treat consumers in a fair and reasonable fashion, the laws provide protection to those who have bought or leased these motor vehicles. The laws allow manufacturers a reasonable number of repair attempts, but manufacturers who fail to properly repair the motor vehicle must either replace the vehicle or refund the consumer’s money. The defect or problem with the motor vehicle must be substantial and the manufacturer must be given an opportunity to repair.

If LemonLaw123 and your records show your motor vehicle is a lemon, you can receive three things:

1. A replacement vehicle or cash refund.

2. All your monthly payments, registration costs, taxes paid and down payment.

3. Your reasonable costs and expenses such as towing costs, rental costs and your reasonable fees and costs for an attorney.

The lemon law protection begins after the first time it was taken to the dealer to correct or repair the problem. If you delay reporting the problem of the motor vehicle to the dealer, the manufacturer is entitled to deduct a usage fee for the miles you used the vehicle without any problems. This means the manufacturer can request that you pay a usage fee for the good or trouble free miles you drove the motor vehicle before you reported the problem.

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Manufacturers can offer to replace your vehicle with a new model just like your current “lemon” vehicle. If you loved the vehicle, but wish it was not a “lemon” you would receive the replacement model and your loan or lease payment would remain the same. You can be charged for any use you made of the vehicle before you reported the problem to a dealer and any taxes or fees that are owed.

The good news is that a used car can and often does qualify under the lemon laws as long as it was sold with a written warranty. Often times, used vehicles are sold while still under the manufacturer’s warranty and/or a warranty from the dealer. If this is the case, then your used car may qualify under the lemon laws.

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This requires a little more in depth evaluation. If the vehicle was taken in for repair during the warranty period, and this can be established by paperwork, then it may be eligible for a refund or replacement. There are more issues that have to be evaluated, but it’s worth a phone call to have your case evaluated free of charge.

The State of California has detailed some presumptions about what makes a vehicle a lemon. Here are the three issues which if they occur in the first eighteen months or 18,000 miles makes your vehicle a presumed lemon: 1. Two or more attempts by the dealer to fix a serious problem that could cause personal injury or death. 2. Four or more attempts by the dealer to fix the same issue, even if it isn’t one related to safety. 3. If your vehicle is unable to be used for more than thirty days as repairs are attempted.

Yes. The lemon laws provide consumer protection as long as the problems took place during the warranty period. In many situations, you may still qualify for lemon law protection even if your vehicle is outside the warranty period as long as the first repair attempt for the defect occurred during the warranty period.

Cars, trucks, motor homes, motorcycles, recreational vehicles, even boats as long as the vehicle was purchased for personal use. Commercial vehicles are not part of the protection provided to the consumer.

It’s possible, but only if the manufacturer is shown to have willfully violated provisions of California’s lemon law. Up to two times the price you paid for your motor vehicle could be awarded by the judge as a penalty to a manufacturer. You want to be represented by an experienced attorney who will fight for every monetary benefit you deserve, not just a “settle the case” attorney looking for an easy payday.

If you have a vehicle problem, you should document the problem by including it on your repair paperwork or invoices when you take your vehicle to a dealer. Insist it is written on their forms and keep a copy. You can avoid the potential defense that you didn’t notify the dealer of your problems and didn’t allow them the opportunity to repair your vehicle. Keep the name of anyone at the dealership you notified of your problem. It all helps overcome a defense argument by the dealer or manufacturer.

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Yes. Retaining an experienced attorney will ensure you do not waive any of your rights. Even if you would prefer to “settle” and just get “some of your payments back,” working with an attorney will help you negotiate the process. And, again, this is all done at no cost to you, as our services will be paid for by the manufacturer.

California’s lemon law says consumers have the right to a refund or replacement when they buy vehicles that need constant repairs or have serious and persistent mechanical problems. Formally known as the Tanner Consumer Protection Act, the lemon law covers all motor vehicles sold or leased in California with a manufacturer’s warranty. It lays out the process dissatisfied vehicle buyers can follow to recover the money they paid for a “lemon” and all related costs, like repairs and towing.

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California law says you have a lemon if your vehicle can’t be fixed after a reasonable number of attempts. What is considered a reasonable number of attempts can vary with each individual case. But the courts assume you have a lemon if your vehicle, within its first 18 months or 18,000 miles, has been in the shop for more than 30 days combined; has had the same problem repaired four or more times; or, in the case of a serious safety defect, has had the same problem repaired two or more times. If one of these is the case, it’s up to the manufacturer to prove your vehicle is not a lemon.

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The law covers all types of motor vehicles sold with a manufacturer’s warranty in California. That includes cars, trucks, vans, buses and the part of a motor home that functions as a vehicle (not the part used as a habitation). Leased vehicles are covered, because they should have a warranty. Used vehicles can be covered as long as the manufacturer’s original warranty applies. Cars used for business qualify as long as the business owns five or fewer vehicles. 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.

In all of those cases, you may still be able to bring a lemon law claim. Leased vehicles and used vehicles in the first few years of their lives are still covered by the manufacturer’s warranty, so they’re still covered by the lemon law. A business vehicle qualifies as long as it’s under 10,000 pounds and belongs to a business that owns five or fewer cars.

Yes. For example, if the seller of the used motor vehicle has provided a warranty or misrepresented the condition of the vehicle, the consumer has rights similar to the new motor vehicle lemon law.

No, but that does make it easier to prove your case. If you meet the criteria, the law automatically assumes you’ve proven your vehicle is a lemon; the manufacturer can still prove that it’s not. That’s why so many lemon buyers have to file California lemon lawsuits. If you don’t meet the criteria, you must prove it is a lemon.

Yes! A vehicle or other consumer product purchased in California is covered by strong California consumer protection laws that forbid fraud, lies and unfair business practices. If you bought a used car with no warranty, but believe you were lied to or otherwise misled, you may have a case.

Don’t get stuck with a lemon! Click here to request a free, half hour consultation with the Lemon Law Lady and start turning your Lemon to Silver today! Remember it’s FREE!

Yes. Subject to certain other requirements, if there have been two safety related repair attempts in the first eighteen months of ownership or 18,000 miles, whichever occurs first, it is presumed the motor vehicle is a lemon.

If your vehicle’s manufacturer does not promptly offer you a replacement or refund for a known lemon, you should contact an expert lemon law attorney like Valerie G. Fernandez Campbell. Your lawyer will file a lawsuit seeking the money or replacement that you’re legally entitled to. The manufacturer may settle with you outside of court, or your case may go to trial. Attorney Valerie G. Fernandez Campbell can tell you more about the process in your own lemon law case.

No. The California lemon law only requires that there be a reasonable number of repair attempts.

If you prove you have a lemon, you are legally entitled to a full refund or a replacement vehicle that’s substantially similar to the lemon. This is your choice, not the manufacturer’s. The manufacturer must also pay any incidental costs, such as vehicle registration fees for the replacement car and rental car bills.

No. The manufacturer has the right to prove that even though there have been a certain number of repair attempts to the motor vehicle, the vehicle is not a lemon.

Many people think the 18 months/18,000 miles requirement is the statute of limitations, but it’s not. That time period is simply the time during which a court may assume you have a lemon. You have four years from the time you knew or should have known you had a lemon to file a lemon law lawsuit.

If you win a lemon law claim, you can choose to either replace your vehicle at no cost to you, or receive a full refund. This is your choice, not the manufacturers. In a lemon lawsuit, you are also entitled to ask for a refund of all the additional costs the lemon caused, such as towing and rental cars.

In a lemon law case, manufacturers typically argue that the defect the consumer is complaining about is not substantial, that the motor vehicle has been repaired or that the defect(s) complained about by the consumer cannot be duplicated.

California lemon law recognizes that some defects are so serious that too many repair attempts might put consumers in danger. That’s why the lemon law applies when you’ve made just two (or more) attempts to fix a defect that’s likely to cause death or serious bodily injury. This rule allows you to start a lemon law claim quickly, so you can get rid of your lemon and get back on the road safely.

Yes. Subject to certain exceptions, the lemon law may apply to a motor vehicle that was purchased for business reasons.

No. You have the legal right to choose whether you take a full refund or a replacement vehicle. Both options should include payment for rental cars and other incidental costs caused by the lemon. And if you choose a replacement, the manufacturer must provide you with a vehicle that’s substantially equivalent to the lemon.

You will never be forced to use alternative dispute resolution. In fact, attorney Valerie G. Fernandez Campbell recommends that you skip any manufacturers’ in-house dispute resolution program. The law allows you to skip third-party arbitration programs with only a small negative effect on your lemon law case. Call for an expert opinion on whether third-party arbitration is right in your case.

Although sometimes you may be able to settle the case on your own, it is highly advisable to have an attorney represent you and it’s FREE!

The law requires manufacturers to ensure that their vehicles live up to their own warranties. They must maintain their own service facilities or an authorized contractor reasonably close to where it sells its goods, and provide that facility with enough parts and supplies to do its job. If it fails to do this, or if the vehicle can’t be repaired after a reasonable number of attempts, the manufacturer must promptly repair or replace the vehicle.

No. You have the legal right to choose whether you take a full refund or a replacement vehicle. Both options should include payment for rental cars and other incidental costs caused by the lemon. And if you choose a replacement, the manufacturer must provide you with a vehicle that’s substantially equivalent to the lemon.

These are some of the most common defenses manufacturers use against a lemon law claim. Under the law, if a manufacturer does not complete the work, or the repair shop does not duplicate the problem, your repair attempt still counts toward meeting the lemon test.

Yes. In handling many of our client’s lemon law claims, phone conferences and email correspondence is enough to obtain the information we need to send to auto manufacturers to get you the money that is owed to you for your defective vehicle. With the increased availability and simple use of fax machines, much of the vital data that we need does not require our clients to visit our office or meet with us in person; however, we are always happy to arrange a convenient time to do so.

You are legally entitled to represent yourself, but there are many advantages to having a lawyer in a lemon law claim. An expert lemon law lawyer will be familiar with the laws and procedures that apply in your case. Your lawyer will be a professional negotiator who knows the tricks that manufacturers use to avoid paying, and how to recover more costs than you may be able to recover on your own. Perhaps just as important, hiring shows the manufacturer that you mean business.

None. We do not charge our clients any hidden fees or require any pre-made payment to obtain our services. As a standard procedure, the settlement reached in your case will contribute to paying attorney fees. In addition, the auto manufacturer may also be held responsible for court fees or attorney costs. It is our goal to make seeking a lemon law claim an option that consumers of all economic backgrounds can participate in.

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