Lemon Law Overview
Q: Is the California lemon law a real law?
- A: Yes. The California lemon law is the nickname of the Song-Beverly Consumer Warranty Act. The law can be found in section 1790 of the California Civil Code.
Q: Is there a federal lemon law?
- A: Yes. The Magnuson-Moss Warranty Act, enacted in 1975, is the federal law that protects consumer product warranties. Other states also have enacted their own protections. So even if you bought or leased your car in another state, we may be able to help you.
Q: Who does the law protect?
- A: Typically, lemon laws protect anyone who purchased or leased a new or used vehicle from a dealer in the state, while the manufacturer’s original warranty is still in effect. However, California’s lemon law, the Song-Beverly Consumer Warranty Act, also protects those who have already sold their cars and allows you to file a claim for up to four years after the manufacturer’s warranty has expired.
Q: Does the law take the place of the manufacturer’s warranty?
- A: No. Both the federal and California laws apply when the manufacturer cannot conform the new or used car to its warranty after a reasonable number of repair attempts. What is deemed reasonable depends on the situation, but could be as few as two repair attempts, at least one of which must occur during the warranty period. Additionally, your warranty stays intact during the course of your lemon lawsuit and all repairs that would normally be covered under the warranty will still be covered until the warranty expires.
You Have Nothing To Lose:
Q: Can I afford to hire an attorney if my car is a “lemon?”
- A: Yes. Both the federal and California laws require the manufacturer to pay all legal fees, so there is no cost to you if you win. When you come to our law firm, you won’t incur fees even if you lose your claim.
The Nitty Gritty:
Although California’s lemon law provides some of the strongest protections to car consumers in the nation, it also has strict eligibility requirements. In subsequent pages, we discuss these specifics in depth. Don’t jeopardize your case by trying to go up against a car manufacturer on your own.
Q: Do I Qualify?
- A: Many people mistakenly think that lemon laws require three or more repair attempts during the first year of ownership. Each law sets its own requirements.
Fortunately, California’s lemon law provides some of the broadest protections to auto consumers in the nation.
Q: Is there a one-year time limit for bringing a claim?
- A: No. In California, you have up to four years after the warranty expires by mileage or years to file a claim.
Q: How does California law define a reasonable number of attempted repairs?
- A: Your car may be considered a lemon if you bring it to the dealer as few as two times for repair of a defect. One of those times must be within the warranty period.
Q: Can a dealer take as long as it wants to fix my car while it is under the manufacturer’s warrant?
- A: No. California’s lemon law may presume that your car is a lemon if it has been serviced for more than 30 days, consecutive or not.
Q: Are Used Cars Covered?
- A: California’s lemon law applies to used cars if they are certified preowned or still under the original or extended manufacturer’s warranty. California lemon law also applies to leased cars.
Remember, the law also covers your attorney’s fees. Whether you win or lose your case, you never have to worry about the cost of standing up for your rights as a car consumer.
Q: Does the law apply to motor vehicles other than cars?
- A: Yes. The law applies to all consumer products, including trucks, motorcycles, SUVs, motor homes, RVs, trailers, boats and watercraft.
Q: Does the law apply only to vehicles used for personal purposes?
- A: No. Vehicles used for business purposes with a gross weight below 10,000 pounds may also qualify if there are five or fewer vehicles registered to the same person or business.
Q: What happens if the warranty runs out?
- A: If the defect or recurring problem occurred while the warranty was still in effect, you may still have a claim. In fact, you can file a lemon law case up to four years after the warranty expires by mileage or years. You do not even have to own the car anymore to bring your claim.
Q: When does a recurring problem turn into a “lemon?”
- A: If you purchased or leased a car and required as few as two repair visits to fix a defect, you may be eligible. At least one of the repair attempts must be during the warranty period.
Q: Can a dealership take as long as it likes to make repairs?
- A: No. After 30 total days in repair (consecutive or not), your vehicle may be considered a lemon under California’s lemon law.
Q: Is there a time limit for filing a lemon law case?
- A: You can file a lemon law case up to four years after the warranty expires by mileage or years. You do not even have to own the car anymore.
Q: Does the lemon law apply only to domestic car brands?
- A: No, the law applies to all car brands, foreign and domestic.
Q: Does the lemon law apply only to cars?
- A: The law applies to all consumer products, including trucks, motorcycles, SUVs, motor homes, RVs, trailers, boats and watercraft.
Q: Does the lemon law apply only to new vehicles?
- A: The law also applies to used cars.
Q: Can I really afford to file a lemon law case?
- A: Yes. There is no cost to you because the manufacturer must pay attorney’s fees in a prevailing claim. You may also be entitled to more money than you think.
Q: Does the manufacturer ever have to pay more than the value of the car?
- A: In some cases of misconduct, the manufacturer may be ordered to pay a civil penalty up to three times the value of your car. A potential scenario might be when the consumer asked the manufacturer to repurchase their vehicle and the manufacturer refused to do so.
Q: Will I have to go to trial?
- A: In our experience, most lemon law cases are resolved before trial, typically with a buyback. The car owner’s involvement is minimal.
Q: How Does the Buyback Program Work?
- A: If you win your lemon law case, the manufacturer can make restitution in several ways.Repurchase, or buyback, is the most common option, where the manufacturer will compensate you for your down payment, monthly payments, registration, and possibly some additional damages. The manufacturer will then register the vehicle in its own name and mark the certificate as a “lemon law buyback.” The manufacturer may be entitled to make a deduction for miles driven prior to the first repair attempt.It may seem intimidating to assert your rights against a big manufacturer. However, the law really is on your side. For example, if a car manufacturer unreasonably rejects buyback when it is reasonable, you may be entitled to a civil penalty of up to three times the value of your car.
Q: Why Hire a Lemon Law Attorney?
- A: Although the protections of California’s lemon law are consumer-friendly, its legal procedures don’t always seem that way. Although you have the right to handle a lemon law claim on your own, you may not end up with the full amount that you deserve. Simply said, automakers do no pay claims willingly. More importantly, why would you put yourself through the hassle when there is no cost for using our law firm?At the Lemon Law Guys, we will bring nearly 20 years of experience to your case. The process begins with a free initial consultation, where we will evaluate the merits of your case. If we recommend filing a lawsuit, there is still no cost to you. If you win, the manufacturer must pay all your legal fees. Our hourly legal fees and costs do not come out of your recovery. That means there is no cost to you for hiring an attorney. You really have nothing to lose.
Talk To Our Lawyers Today
At Johnson & Buxton — The Lemon Law Guys, we focus our practice on California lemon law claims. When you schedule a free consultation with us, we will evaluate your case and provide our recommendation. To learn more about how we can help you, call 805-667-0147 or contact us online to schedule your free consultation.
From our law office in Ventura, we handle cases in the Los Angeles area and throughout California.