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Written by: Stephen Schofield
| Read Time: 3 minutes

You have probably heard of cars or other vehicles referred to as “lemons.”

Most people know that a lemon is a vehicle that isn’t driveable or has many problems. California has laws that deal specifically with lemons and protect people from bad car deals.

Today we will discuss how a vehicle can qualify as a lemon in California.

What Is the Lemon Law In California

The California Lemon Law protects consumers from fraud when they purchase certain goods. A vehicle is a “lemon” when it repeatedly malfunctions or is seriously defective.

The Lemon Law in California covers all vehicles, new or used, so long as the manufacturer’s new car warranty has not expired.

If someone purchases a defective vehicle under the manufacturer’s warranty that the manufacturer cannot repair, the consumer can receive a new replacement vehicle or a full refund. 

What Are Lemon Law Qualifications for Vehicles in California 

For a car to be a lemon, the defect must:

  • Fall under the manufacturer’s new car warranty;
  • Substantially impair the use, value, or safety of the vehicle; and
  • Not be caused by the driver using the vehicle unreasonably after its sale.

The manufacturer must make a reasonable number of attempts to repair the problem. Here is some guidance on what a “reasonable” number of attempts could be:

  • The manufacturer or dealer made a minimum of four unsuccessful attempts at repairing the same issue;
  • The problem could cause serious injury or death, and the manufacturer unsuccessfully attempted repairs at least twice; or
  • The vehicle spent at least 30 days in the shop for any problems covered in the warranty, and those days do not have to be consecutive.

The Lemon Laws presumption says that if the vehicle falls into any of the above categories and the issue happened within the warranty’s time limitations, then the car is presumed to be a lemon.

For example, a manufacturer could guarantee its product for one year from the purchase date, or a car manufacturer might give a warranty for 10 years or 100,000 miles.

However, you stand the best chance at a successful California Lemon Law claim if the issue occurs within 18 months of purchase.

Lemon Law Claims

You have four years from the date the problems started to file a claim under the Lemon Law.

Generally, these issues resolve through an arbitration process with the manufacturer or dealer.

Because it can be difficult to determine the event that triggers the statute of limitations for Lemon Law claims, you should consult an attorney as soon as possible to discuss your options.

Subsequent Buyers of “Lemon” Vehicles

Under the law, dealers can buy back lemons and resell them. However, these vehicles must have a “lemon” sticker on the door, and the dealer must clearly identify them as Lemon Law buyback vehicles.

The new buyer must receive written notice that the vehicle is a Lemon Law buyback. They must also receive a list of the defects and attempts to fix the problems.

Sometimes dealers might try to trick buyers into unknowingly purchasing Lemon Law buybacks by not labeling the vehicles properly.

If that happens, the subsequent buyer can still pursue a claim against the dealer or manufacturer to receive a new vehicle or a refund. 

Contact Our California Lemon Law Lawyers at Wells Call Injury Lawyers

Having a lawyer in your Lemon Law case can help you get the most out of your claim.

A good California Lemon Law lawyer knows the ins and outs of the law. Wells Call Injury Lawyers are experienced attorneys that regularly achieve excellent results for our clients.

If you suspect that your new vehicle might be a lemon, contact us to discuss your situation.

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