Legal Guide

A Basic Guide to Lemon Law in California

If you've been driving around in your shiny new lemon, you may be wondering what your rights are and what to do about it. Well, wonder no more. 

This guide will tell you everything you need to know about the lemon law in California.  Thankfully, the state has a law in place to protect drivers in this situation. Read on for information on how to make a claim, what remedies are available to you, and more!

What Is the California Lemon Law?

The lemon law is a statute that offers protection to consumers who have purchased or leased a defective motor vehicle. The law allows these individuals to take legal action against the manufacturer or seller of the vehicle and seek a refund or replacement. Essentially, the lemon law in California keeps you from losing out on money.

Which Vehicles Are Covered by the Lemon Law?

The lemon law applies to all new and used cars, trucks, vans, and SUVs that are registered in California. The law also applies to leased vehicles. If you buy a faulty vehicle, rest assured that you're covered.

Is My Vehicle a Lemon? The Requirements for a Vehicle to Be a Lemon

In order to qualify as a lemon, a vehicle must meet all of the following requirements:

  • The vehicle must be under warranty.
  • The defect must substantially impair the use, value, or safety of the vehicle.
  • The manufacturer must have been unable to repair the defect after a reasonable number of attempts.

If your vehicle meets the above criteria and you decide to take legal action against the manufacturer or seller, you may be able to recover one or more of the following remedies:

  • A full refund of the purchase price or lease cost.
  • Replacement of the vehicle.
  • Cash compensation for damages, such as diminution in value or loss of use.

Keep in mind that these solutions are not guaranteed, and each situation is unique. If you think your vehicle may be a lemon, it's best to speak with a lemon law attorney to learn more about your rights under California law.

Where Can I Find More Information?

If you would like more information about the lemon law in California, please visit the website of the California Department of Consumer Affairs. You can also contact the department by phone at (800) 952-5210. 

If you want to get legal counsel before pursuing a lemon law settlement in California, you can take that route as well.

The Statute of Limitations for the California Lemon Law

In California, the lemon law has a statute of limitations of four years. This means that if you have a car that is within this time frame, and it has been determined to be a lemon, you are able to take legal action. 

Again, the law applies to new cars that are still under warranty. If your car is out of warranty or has exceeded the warranty period, you may still be able to take legal action, but it will be more difficult.

Second, in order to take legal action, you must first notify the manufacturer of the issue. You can do this by submitting a written notice or by contacting them over the phone. 

The manufacturer has a set amount of time to fix the issue, and if they fail to do so, you can then take legal action.

If your car is older than four years, you may still be able to take legal action, but it will be more difficult.

The Process of Filing a Lemon Law Claim in California

To start, it’s important to understand what qualifies as a lemon. In California, a car is considered a lemon if it has been in the shop for more than 30 days within the first 18 months of ownership, or it has had four or more serious defects. If your car meets these criteria, you may be eligible to file a claim.

The next step is to gather all of your documentation. This includes repair orders, registration cards, and any other paperwork related to your vehicle. Once you have everything together, you can start the claim process.

You’ll need to fill out a form called a “Lemon Law Claim” and send it to the California Department of Consumer Affairs. They will review your claim and let you know if you are eligible for a refund or replacement vehicle.

If your claim is approved, you may be eligible for a full refund, or a new car in lieu of your old one. Keep in mind that the process can take some time, so be patient. And remember, if you have any questions, the Department of Consumer Affairs is there to help.

If you file a lemon law claim, and the outcome is not in your favor, don't give up. You can always try again or seek the help of a lemon law attorney. They can provide advice on how to move forward, and give your case a greater chance of winning.

Understanding the Lemon Law in California

If you’re a west coast resident, it’s important to be aware of the lemon law in California and what it covers. This article has hopefully given you a good understanding of the law and how to protect yourself. If you ever find yourself in a situation where your car is deemed a lemon, don’t be afraid to file a complaint!

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