Lemon Laws in California

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What exactly is a lemon and what protections does the state of California provide consumers? Fortunately for consumers, the Song-Beverly Act is a strong protection for consumer rights.

California's lemon laws are designed to protect consumers who purchase a vehicle with a serious flaw that can't be fixed. If you have a car that has a serious flaw that can't be repaired after several tries, this law can help you obtain a refund or a replacement vehicle.

When Does the Lemon Law Apply?

The lemon law in California will apply any time your vehicle has a problem
that substantially impairs its value, use or safety, and when you have given the automaker a “reasonable number of opportunities” to fix the problem. In general, the car must also be covered under the manufacturer's new vehicle warranty when the problem is discovered. The lemon law also applies in the case of a used vehicle as long as the original warranty is still active.

Under the Song-Beverly Act, your car will be presumed to be a lemon if all of the following criteria are met:

• You have had the car for no more than 18 months and it has no more than 18,000 miles on its odometer.
• The problem with the car could cause serious bodily injury or death.
• The manufacturer has made at least two unsuccessful attempts to repair the problem.
• The vehicle has been out of service for more than thirty days OR the manufacturer has made at least four attempts to correct the problem OR the problems are covered by the warranty, reduce the vehicle's use, value or safety, and were not caused by abuse.
• You have notified the manufacturer of the problem in writing, if required by your car's warranty.

However, even if you do not meet the criteria above, you may very well still have a lemon. The criteria outlined above, if met, solely means that you have met a presumption that your vehicle may be a lemon. Many lemon vehicle do not meet the presumption.

What Happens When a Car Is Determined to Be a Lemon?

If your vehicle qualifies as a lemon under California law, the manufacturer must either refund your money or replace the car with one that is substantially identical. The law states that the consumer is able to choose whether he or she wants a refund or a replacement. Keep in mind that, if you select a refund, the manufacturer can deduct some money from the refund amount to compensate for the mileage you have put on the vehicle.

Can Manufacturers Fight Against the Lemon Law?

Manufacturers are reluctant to replace vehicles or provide refunds to consumers even when a car has significant flaws that can't be fixed. For this reason, they often fight back against consumers who claim to have a lemon. For example, the manufacturer or their dealer may argue that the vehicle's problem resulted from abuse or that it isn't covered by the warranty. They may also claim that they haven't had enough chances to fix the problem.

Regardless of how you choose to deal with your lemon law dispute, be sure to keep careful records of everything related to the case so you can support your argument that your vehicle is a lemon.

Aaron Fhima has a long record of success taking on large defense firms. Aaron focuses on taking an aggressive approach to representing his clients’ interests, and develops creative case strategies designed to win maximum compensation as quickly as possible.

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Disclaimer: While every effort has been made to ensure the accuracy of this publication, it is not intended to provide legal advice as individual situations will differ and should be discussed with an expert and/or lawyer. For specific technical or legal advice on the information provided and related topics, please contact the author.

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