Understanding the Language of Lemon Laws

Lemon laws exist to protect consumers who have purchased defective cars that cannot be repaired after a reasonable number of attempts have been made. The purpose of these laws is to ensure that buyers who have bought a truly defective vehicle are able to get a new car or a refund from the dealer or manufacturer. Below is some basic information about these laws.

When Is a Car a Lemon?

Every state has distinctive lemon laws that determine the exact definition of a lemon and the number of repairs required before a consumer can take action. In the state of California, a car is considered a lemon if it has a serious defect or mechanical problem that persists even after reasonable repair attempts are made. Specifically, your car is a lemon if:

  • The car has defects or mechanical problems that are covered by the warranty, reduce your ability to use the car and lower its value.
  • The car’s defects or mechanical issues were not caused by abuse of the vehicle.
  • The car has been out of commission for more than 30 days while being repaired for issues covered by the warranty. These days don’t need to be consecutive.
  • The manufacturer or dealer has tried to repair the issue at least four times. For issues that are likely to cause death or serious injury, only two repair attempts are required.

What Happens When You Have a Lemon?

If your vehicle qualifies as a lemon, California law entitles you to a replacement vehicle or a full refund of the vehicle’s purchase price. However, many dealers and manufacturers are reluctant to admit that the vehicle they produced or sold is a lemon. As a result, consumers who qualify for replacement vehicles or refunds under California's Lemon Law must fight to get the justice they deserve.

Consumers should know that it’s not just new vehicles that are covered by the lemon law. For example, if the vehicle is still under the manufacturer’s warranty, you should consider your legal options.

Car buyers should also understand what is meant by lemon law presumption. This means that a vehicle is considered a lemon if the vehicle is found to be faulty within 18 months or 18,000 miles after purchase. Even those guidelines can have exceptions, so it’s always best to explore all your legal options to determine whether you have a valid claim.

If a reasonable number of repair attempts have not fixed the problem with your vehicle, your vehicle is a lemon. The manufacturer owes you reimbursement or replacement for your purchase.

Hiring an Attorney

To give yourself the best chance of a positive outcome in your case, it is best to work with a dedicated lemon law firm that understands the relevant laws and has experience representing consumers in these cases. The right attorney can help you file a claim against the manufacturer, gather the evidence you need, present your case clearly and recover the award you deserve.

Make sure you find an attorney who can practice in California and who has a track record of getting results for clients. The difference between a claim without an attorney and one with an attorney can be significant. Skilled lemon law attorneys not only know the process well, they also understand how the manufacturers' legal teams look for ways to minimize offers to consumers.

The lemon law language used by manufacturers can seem foreign to those who aren’t familiar with the specifics of the law. Consumers are generally best served by consulting someone who knows the law inside and out.