What is the California Lemon Law

Buying a car is one of the biggest purchases we make, whether it is used or new. While one can do some basic research to find out about cars that are reported to be defective more than others, there is little you can do to avoid buying or leasing a defective vehicle.

In 1984, the US government created the Lemon Law to protect consumer rights against auto manufacturers. Lemon laws apply to defects that influence the use, safety or value of a vehicle or product. The goal of the lemon law is to protect the interests of individuals who have bought any type of vehicles be it automobile, truck, motorcycle, RV or boat (new or used) under the warranty of a manufacturer. If the product can not be repaired successfully after a reasonable number of attempts, the manufacturer has the responsibility of either repurchasing or replacing it.

Lemon laws are highly state specific therefore it is very important to find a local lemon law attorney who is familiar with your state’s laws.


California Lemon Law

Song-Beverly Consumer Warranty Act known as the California Lemon Law is a state law (with Civil Code section 1790) that provides protection for consumers who lease or buy new or used motor vehicles. The law offers more coverage for consumers than many other states do. According to the California automobile lemon law, the case requires solution if the vehicle first repair attempt occurs within the first 18 months or 18,000 miles vehicle ownership. The law is also valid if the following conditions are available:

  • The vehicle is subject to a reasonable number of repair attempts (at least 2 times).  
  • The vehicle has been with the authorised service provider for related repairs for a total of 30 days collectively.
  • The vehicle must be leased or purchased in California and used for personal or family use.
  • The defect complaints have been reported during the original warranty for the vehicle.

Note:  The law applies to consumers who bought or leased a motor vehicle for personal, family or household use. A person who bought or leased a vehicle primarily for business purposes would not be protected under Song-Beverly Consumer Warranty Act.

The law requires the manufacturer to repair the subject vehicle within the above mentioned parameter or to undo the purchase/lease contract and refund all payments made back to the consumer. The manufacturer can also replace the vehicle with a comparable one if the consumer agrees to this option.