Understanding California Lemon Law

The California Lemon law ensures vehicles purchased within the state do not have major problems or defects. No matter you have a Toyota, Nissan, Rivian, or Dodge, these sets of laws help protect consumers’ rights when purchasing vehicles at a dealership. Whether brand new or used, California lemon laws ensure you don’t get stuck with a lemon vehicle.

Below, we take a comprehensive look at California Lemon Law. Read on to ensure you get the justice you deserve.

What is California Lemon Law?

Although all 50 states have a version of the lemon law, the details vary from state to state. Lemon law, for example, does not apply to used cars in many states. California, however, is among the few states that extend lemon law to used vehicles as long as it includes an express warranty.

Enacted in 1970, the California lemon law – also known as the Song-Beverly Consumer Warranty Act – protects car buyers from defects that the manufacturer or dealer can’t fix within a reasonable time frame. However, these problems or defects need to be covered under the warranty.

Under the act, you are entitled to get a full refund or exchange your vehicle for one that works. It requires manufacturers to replace or repurchase faulty vehicles that buyers are unable to fix after several repairs.

Many people make the mistake of thinking California lemon law only applies to vehicles. However, it protects you from numerous defective products.

What Qualifies as A California Lemon Law claim?

Realizing your vehicle has a problem for the first time does not qualify it as a lemon. Therefore, how do you establish whether you have a valid lemon law claim? Here are the most common elements in a California lemon law claim to get you started:

  • The vehicle has a warranty-covered defect that impairs its safety, value, and use.
  • The manufacturer was given reasonable repair opportunities – two or more.
  • The defect is not a direct result of the user’s unauthorized or unreasonable use.
  • The vehicle has spent more than 30 days in the repair shop.

It is, therefore, vital to schedule an appointment at the local authorized repair facility when you first notice a problem. Talk them through the issue and ensure they start repairs immediately. It will also help to keep all records and receipts of repairs to help strengthen your claim.

California Lemon Law Claims – Misconceptions

As stated earlier, California’s lemon law is unlike that in other states. Yes, the rules are straightforward. However, several misconceptions have led consumers to leave a lot of money on the table. Some of these misconceptions include the following:

Your Lemon Law Claim is Invalid After 18 Months of Purchase or if It Has a Mileage of Over 18K

Mileage and time limits are among the biggest misconceptions that consumers fall prey to. Most people tend to believe that a California lemon law claim is not valid if the vehicle has accrued more than 18,000 miles or it has been more than 18 months after purchase. Consider these figures as mere guidelines that showcase strong lemon law claims.

Instead, your vehicle can be considered a lemon for as long as it remains under the dealership or manufacturer warranty. The warranty period will depend on the warrantor, manufacturer, and vehicle model. Most, however, run up to 36,000 miles or 3 years while others go up to 5 years or 100,000 miles.

California Lemon Law Does Not Apply to Leased or Used Cars

You have the same lemon law rights in California whether you have a purchased or leased vehicle. You can pursue a lemon law claim as long as a leased or used vehicle meets the set qualifications. However, the refund will be different from if you had a new car.

With a new vehicle that is deemed a lemon, you get compensation for the down payment and all other monthly payments. The manufacturer, however, will reimburse you for the payment of the leased lemon and buy out what is left of the lease. With a used car, you will only receive a buyback if the vehicle is still covered under the dealership or original manufacturer’s warranty.

However, note that you might not be eligible for any benefits under the California lemon law if you buy a used car ”as is”. When you do this, it means you are accountable for any issues that may arise the minute you drive off the lot. Luckily, the dealer is obligated to inform you whether or not you are buying a vehicle ”as is”.

Defects Covered Under California Lemon Law

Under California lemon law, the covered defects should exist when the car was delivered and continue to exist after several attempts of repairs. The most common defects that California lemon law covers include the following:

  • Faulty brakes
  • Defective steering
  • Electrical issues
  • Acceleration problems
  • Transmission and engine issues
  • Braking system defect
  • Defective airbags
  • Bad car smells
  • Stalling
  • Defective seat belt

Does California Lemon Law Apply to Privately Sold Vehicles?

No, the Song-Beverly Consumer Warranty Act does not apply to privately purchased vehicles. The seller is also not obligated by the law to fix problems with the car. Therefore, always have a mechanic inspect a vehicle before purchasing it from a private seller. It is a smart move that will help you save money and avoid huge problems in the future.

However, you do stay protected if the car warranty is not expired. Used car buyers stay protected if the manufacturer’s warranty is transferred to the new owner. Equally, car owners selling used cars must comply with all express warranties.

What of Breach of Warranty?

Is your car not working properly yet it is still under warranty? If so, the manufacturer is legally required to fix the vehicle. Failure to do so means they violate your warranty. Therefore, you are entitled to seek monetary damages provided you fail the claim within the four-year statute of limitation.

Let us Help

Do you have a defective vehicle that seems to cost you a fortune in repair bills? You probably have a lemon vehicle and qualify to file a California lemon law claim. Luckily our attorneys from sandiegolemonlawyer.com are here to help. Ensure you contact us today to get fair compensation.