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An introduction to California’s Lemon Law

As a new car owner you are probably very excited about your purchase. You did the math and factored in all the money you will save by not having to make costly repairs to your vehicle. The newfound sense of safety and security in your new car far outweighs the monthly payments. But what if your sparkling new car is not living up to the expectations and you are facing unexpected problems and repeated visits to the dealership for repairs?

Song-Beverly Act

You have the right to rely on your vehicle’s dependability and safety. In the state of California, the Song-Beverly Consumer Warranty Act enacted in 1970 exists to protect car owners and leasers. Known colloquially as the Lemon Law, the Act protects consumers by requiring auto manufacturers to sufficiently carry out the terms of their new car warranties.

Lemon Law basics

Eligible vehicles are cars purchased for business or personal use that have a gross vehicle weight of less than 10,000lbs. The Lemon Law also covers motor homes, trailers, boats and motorcycles. The Lemon Law applies for the duration of the manufacturer’s warranty period, plus you can file a claim up to four years after your warranty ended. Lemon Law coverage extends to new owners of used cars with existing warranties as well. Consumers who purchased cars that were lemon law buyback vehicles are protected as well.

Lemon presumption

The law has guidelines in place for when a car is presumed to be a lemon. If within 18 months of the vehicle’s delivery to the buyer or 18,000 miles on the odometer any of these criteria are met, the manufacturer must either replace your vehicle or refund your money.

  • The manufacturer has made 2 attempts to repair a warranty problem that could result in death or serious injury.
  • The manufacturer has made four attempts to repair the same warranty problem.
  • The vehicle has been out of service for 30 days or more for warranty problem repairs. The days do not need to be consecutive.
  • The recurring problems are not caused by vehicle owner abuse.

If the manufacturer cannot repair or correct the problem after a reasonable amount of attempts, as outlined above, you have the right to request a replacement vehicle or a refund. The dealer cannot force you to accept a replacement car.

Having an advocate help you with arbitration process is advantageous. Manufacturers are likely to rebut consumer claims. They do not want to refund your money or give you a replacement vehicle unless they absolutely have to, even though it is required by law. The Lemon Law was put into place to protect car owners just like you so get started on your lemon claim today.

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