Lemon Law In California:
Your California Lemon Law Guide

Lemon laws exist to protect those who buy consumer goods for everyday needs. In particular, the California lemon law protects consumers who purchase motor vehicles for personal, family or household use. These laws ensure that auto manufacturers abide by the promises made in their warranties. One key promise is that their vehicles provide safe, reliable transportation.

If a problem occurs during the warranty period, the lemon law requires the auto manufacturer to resolve the problem. However, auto manufacturers sell thousands of defective motor vehicles yearly and fail to fix those problems during the warranty period. The California Lemon Law requires auto manufacturers or licensed repair shops to fix these vehicle problems within a reasonable number of attempts.

If an automaker sells you a defective car, truck, or other motor vehicle, the California Lemon Law requires the automaker to give you a replacement or give you your money back.

California Lemon Law Introduction

Federal and State Lemon Laws

Lemon laws exist on two levels. The federal lemon law holds manufacturers to the terms of their own warranties. This is known as the Magnuson-Moss Warranty Act (15 U.S.C. ch. 50 § 2301 et seq), and it applies to consumer products. This lemon law is enforceable nationwide and allows states to create their own lemon laws with stronger protections.

California has established one of the strongest lemon laws in the nation. California’s lemon law, known as the Song-Beverly Consumer Warranty Act (Civ. Code § 1793.22), protects anyone who owns or leases a car, truck, SUV or other motor vehicle from an authorized dealership in California. Both new cars and used cars (or other motor vehicles) are protected if they were purchased with a manufacturer’s warranty. If your vehicle is facing a repeated problem that affects its use, safety or value, the automaker or authorized repair shop has to fix the problem with a “reasonable number of repair attempts.”

Those who file lemon law claims against auto manufacturers do not have to pay any costs out of pocket for legal representation. If the vehicle owner or lessee wins a lemon law claim, the auto manufacturer has to pay the attorneys’ fees and costs.

The Lemon Law Process

The California Lemon Law protects motor vehicles that were bought or leased from licensed dealerships in California and were purchased with a written warranty from the manufacturer.

Your motor vehicle may be considered defective if it has a problem that affects the vehicle’s use, value or safety, and you have given the manufacturer or authorized repair shop a “reasonable number” of chances to fix your vehicle. Common defects in lemon vehicles include problems with engine, transmission, electrical systems and other important vehicle components.

After a lemon law attorney takes on your case against the manufacturer, you may be eligible for the following rewards under the California Lemon Law:

  • A cash settlement.
  • A replacement vehicle: A warrantied vehicle that is substantially similar to your old vehicle, with sales taxes and fees paid.
  • Lemon Law Buyback: A full refund of your vehicle and related expenses, minus a mileage-based deduction.

If you win your case, the auto manufacturer has to pay your attorney’s fees and costs. You do not pay any upfront cost for lemon law representation. Your lemon law lawyer only gets paid if you win.

Lemon Law Exceptions

Ordinarily, the California Lemon Law does not protect those who use their new or used vehicles for business, or those who purchased their vehicles out of state. However, the state lemon law does grant a few exceptions.

The lemon law in California allows some small businesses to sue manufacturers for defective vehicles. The business cannot have more than five vehicles registered in California, and each vehicle cannot exceed a curb weight of 10,000 pounds.

The lemon law in California allows some special protections for members of the Armed Forces. A member of the Armed Forces is defined as “a person on full-time active duty in the Army, Navy, Marine Corps, Air Force, National Guard, or Coast Guard; and would provide that full-time active duty would also include active military service at a designated military service school.”

A member of the Armed Forces can pursue a California lemon law claim if they purchase a vehicle with a manufacturer’s warranty, that manufacturer or its representatives sells vehicles in California, and that member of the Armed Forces 1) was stationed in California at the time of purchase or 2) was stationed in California at the time of filing a claim.

Our California Lemon Law Attorneys Can Help You

If your vehicle has one or more recurring problems that cannot be resolved within a reasonable number of attempts, Knight Law Group can help you.

Our California lemon law lawyers have won record settlements for California residents saddled with defective vehicles. If your vehicle is a lemon, we can help you win a significant cash settlement. We have won large settlements for vehicles facing engine problems, malfunctioning transmissions, brake issues and other nonconformities that can make a vehicle unreliable or unsafe.

We operate on a contingency basis. That means you pay no upfront costs for the help of our lemon law attorneys. If you win, the automaker is required by law to pay for your attorneys’ fees and costs. Our lemon law attorneys only get paid if you win. You pay nothing if we lose your lemon law case.