The California Lemon Law

The Song-Beverly Consumer Warranty Act.

The official title of California’s Lemon Law is The Song-Beverly Consumer Warranty Act. The Act can be located in the California Civil Code beginning at Section 1790.

How do you know if your Car, Truck, Motorcycle, RV or Trailer is a lemon?

Well the best way to find out is to call us.

The general requirements of the Lemon Law are as follows:

  1. You must have a written warranty. If you do not have a written warranty, CA’s Lemon Law will not apply — however other consumer protection laws may apply to protect you. Your written warranty can be from the manufacturer (or even from a dealer on a used car). Beware: Although there are people and websites out there that will tell you that the California Lemon Law only applies to the first 18 months or 18,000 miles of a vehicle’s life – that is simply not true! The lemon law protects you for the length of the vehicle’s warranty – and beyond, if the problems occurred while under warranty.
  2. Normally, you must have purchased your vehicle for what is termed: “personal, family, or household purposes.” However, many commercial vehicles used in small businesses will also fall under the umbrella of the California’s Lemon Law. (Call us Toll Free or click here if you have a commercial car or truck and want to find out if the lemon law applies to you.)
  3. You need to allow the manufacturer (or the manufacturer’s representatives – which are normally the dealerships) a “reasonable number” of attempts to fix the problem(s) with your vehicle. (What is a reasonable number of attempts for the   Lemon Law you ask? Well, that depends on the vehicle’s problems or defects. For example, if the problem is related to the safety of the occupants (like your brakes or the air-bags for instance) then fewer attempts will be required than if the problem is related to a non-safety  “pulling” problem.The number of days your car, truck or motor home was in the shop for warranty repairs can also have an impact on the reasonable number of repair attempts. For example, if your car or truck was out of service by reason of warranty repairs for a total of 30 days within the first 18 months or 18,000 miles – whichever comes first – you get the benefit of what’s called a “presumption” that your vehicle is a “lemon.”
  4. The problem(s) you are experiencing with your car or truck, must substantially impair its use, value or safety. In most cases you’ll know, but don’t guess about the impact of the problem, you may guess wrong. Call our law firm and discuss with us any concerns you may be having with your vehicle, at no charge. We can help you judge whether or not you have a lemon on your hands. You can also click here to fill out a free Case Evaluation Form. Although each case is different and complexities can arise, those are the essential elements of the lemon law in California. Let’s look at some frequently asked questions about the CA Lemon Law:
  • Does California Lemon Law apply to leases as well as purchases?
    Yes, most definitely it does.
  • If the manufacturer buys back my car what do I get?
    Normally, in a lemon law repurchase you are entitled to a refund of your down payment; all the monthly finance payments you’ve made; the payoff of the balance of your car loan; and your current registration. You may also recover what are termed related “incidental” and “consequential” damages, such as sales tax, license fees, tire fee, official fees, towing costs, rental cars, and unreimbursed repairs.
  • Can I charge the warrantor with my attorney’s fees and costs?
    Yes, under the provisions of the Lemon Law in California, the warrantor is charged with responsibility of paying reasonable attorney’s fees and costs when you have been sold a lemon and the warrantor has not fulfilled its buy-back obligations.
  • Are motorcycles covered under the Lemon Law in California?
    Yes, but motorcycles are special situation and have special rules. Contact us to discuss.
  • Are RVs, motor homes and trailers covered under the Lemon Law in California?
    Yes, but motor homes, trailers and RV’s are special situations and have special rules. Contact us to discuss.
  • Are boats, yachts and recreational water craft covered under California Lemon Law?
    Yes, but boats, yachts and recreational water craft are special situations and have special rules. Contact us to discuss.

Lemon Law Hints

Always get (and keep) a copy of the Repair Orders (stating with what the problems are – “complaints”) when you drop off your car.

Always make sure the dealership writes down on the Repair Order every problem you are experiencing, when you drop off your car. If they won’t do it, write it down yourself before you sign.

Always keep a copy of the Repair Invoice when you pick up your car, which states what work was done on your vehicle.

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