What is the California Lemon Law?

Spending more time at a repair shop than you actually drive may be annoying. Thanks to California Lemon Law you are protected against such breakdowns if your car is under warranty.

Lemon laws are regulations which aim to protect consumers of defective vehicles or other consumer products or services that do not meet their claimed quality or usefulness. You may obtain either a refund or a new replacement vehicle if the manufacturer fails to repair a defective car that consistently causes trouble.

Generally, the lemon law applies when the car 1) has a substantial defect covered by a warranty that occurs within a specific time after purchase, and 2) continue to have the defect after a “reasonable number” of repair attempts. Let’s look at some of these definitions.

How much time should elapse after purchase to qualify for lemon law

There is a general misconception that to be eligible for lemon law, your car must be less than one year old or to be a new car. This is not true! As long as the vehicle is having a warranty problem, the Lemon Law may apply. This law applies to most vehicles purchased or leased in California that are still under warranty. Your car will qualify for lemon law even if you have purchased a used car unless it is still under a manufacturer’s new car warranty.

How many times is “reasonable number” of repair attempts

Your car will qualify for the lemon law if the manufacturer or his agent have made four or more attempts to repair your vehicle with the same warranty problem. If an issue may result in a condition that is likely to cause death or serious bodily injury, then two or more attempts to repair the car are sufficient to qualify for lemon law. The same applies when the vehicle is out of service for more than 30 days during the manufacturer’s warranty period.

What should you do to qualify for lemon law

Some manufacturers require that the consumer notifies them about the problem, preferably in writing. You may find this information in the warranty materials or the buyer’s manual.

Many manufacturers/dealerships are helpful in getting a lemon repaired or replaced, but it’s better to keep track of all the records yourself. You may record the time you’ve lost from work or the time the vehicle has been in the shop and the nature of problems. Make sure that the repair people diagnose the problem properly and complete proper service write-up.

What to do if your manufacturer fails to repurchase your vehicle

If the manufacturer fails to provide adequate help in your lemon, you can either hire a lemon lawyer or ask the manufacturer if it has an arbitration program. Arbitration is a process when a neutral arbitrator helps to resolve the dispute between you and your vehicle manufacturer. It is free, and the decision is not binding for the consumer.

Otherwise, you may need to hire a lemon lawyer that knows your consumer rights. In this case, you may end up getting a resolution muck quicker than attempting to deal with the issue yourself.