California lemon law is a state law that provides a remedy
for purchasers and lessees of cars, trucks, and all
motor-driven vehicles of less than 10,000 GVW in order to
compensate for vehicles that repeatedly fail to get
repaired by the authorized warrantor of the manufacturer
for defects that "substantially impair the use, value or
safety of the vehicle". These vehicles are called "lemons".
The California lemon law (the Song-Beverly Consumer Act)
protects purchasers and lessees in the State of
California. The California lemon law covers any vehicle
covered by a warranty. The rights afforded to consumers by
the California lemon law may exceed the warranties
expressed in purchase contracts.
for a California lemon law claim...
the core of the California lemon law is the manufacturer's
breach of warranty. A manufacturer's warranty is what
makes the manufacturer legally responsible for repairs to
the consumer's vehicle. It is a form of guarantee. An
express warranty is typically a written warranty. An
implied warranty unlike an express warranty, as it is not
written. The law imposes these obligations on the
manufacturer, seller or both. The California lemon law
deals with written warranties, but can also be potentially
utilized for "implied warranty of merchantability" as
well. The California lemon law may cover situations like
previous accidents, title "washing", "salvage title", and "odometer
fraud/tampering" when the seller is aware of it and failed
to disclose critical information to the buyer prior to/ at
the time of purchase.
Attempts and the California lemon law...
California lemon law claim is predicated upon the
warrantor’s inability to effect warranty repairs for
defects in workmanship and materials in a reasonable
number of repair attempts. If a defect is likely to "result
in serious injury or death" the number of documented
repair attempts can be as little as two (2). Though there
is no "typical" number of repair attempts needed for most
general problems with vehicle, three (3) or (4) repair
attempts is the recognized number in most cases.
California lemon law statute has a provision to protect
consumers who have either too many days cumulative in the
shop, too many days at one stretch (30+ continuous) for
repairs, or for lack of availability of warranty repair
parts for 30+ days continuous.
recent State of California Appellate Court decision
further clarified what a consumer’s responsibilities are
in regards to warranty repair documentation requirements.
To create a "repair attempt" under the California lemon
law statute, a consumer must deliver the vehicle to the
dealer, have a repair order created with the vehicle
owners complaints/symptoms clearly noted, and for the
vehicle owner to give the warranty providing dealer the
opportunity to diagnose, and effect repairs to the vehicle
to correct the non-conformity to warranty.
between "extended warranties" and "service contracts"...
California lemon law deals with breach of warranty.
Automobile dealerships often offer for sale what they
represent as "extended warranties". These are in
actuality, under our California lemon law statute, a "service
contract". The distinction between a "warranty" and a "service
contract" in California is that a "warranty" is provided
at no cost to the consumer, a "service contract" is a
mechanical breakdown insurance policy that is sold to the
consumer. Repairs performed under any non-warranty "service
contract" are not applicable as "repair attempts" under
the California lemon law.
Legislation that has changed the California lemon law...
to 2011, vehicles which were no longer in the possession
of the owner/lessee at the time a California lemon law
claim was filed were not applicable. Recent legislation
saw a dramatic change in the California lemon law wherein
if a consumer had repeated warranty repairs while in
possession of the vehicle, but now no longer owns the
vehicle, the consumer can still have rights under the
California lemon law.
Remedies under the California lemon law...
in California have various potential remedies under the
California lemon law. One is known as a "repurchase". This
is where the automobile manufacturer buys the vehicle
back, and returns all monies paid to the consumer. The
automobile manufacturer also pays off any lease or loan
balance. A statutory usage charge is calculated according
to the state statute instructions. The consumer turns the
vehicle back into the manufacturer’s transfer agent, and
the "repurchase" (buyback) is completed.
second remedy under the California lemon law is the "vehicle
replacement", which is commonly a "substitution of
collateral" when a loan/lease is in place. In California,
both the automobile manufacturer and the consumer must be
in mutual agreement for a vehicle replacement to take
place. There is no duty under the statute for either party
to accept this resolution if one party does not agree with
it. "Vehicle replacement" is only applicable to vehicles
that were purchased or leased new.
Attorneys role in California Lemon Law Cases...
California lemon law is a law that nearly always requires "legal
force" to enforce it. This means an attorney to represent
the consumer in their lemon law claim/case. California is
a "fee shifting" state. This means that the consumer does
not pay the attorney for the time and costs spent when the
attorney pursues legal process with the automobile
manufacturer. Quite often the manufacturer’s insistence
that the vehicle does not qualify in their opinion forces
the lemon law attorney to file a complaint (lawsuit). This
is an important fact in lemon law cases. Wherein a
individual consumer can produce little or no pressure on a
automobile manufacturer to settle, a lemon law attorney
can, if need be – take a case all the way to court for
resolution. A consumer simply does not have the legal
clout that a lawsuit yields when pursued by an attorney.
is available in California, but not required by law...
is an alternate dispute resolution mechanism that was
lobbied-for by automobile manufacturers. It is not "impartial",
as it is paid/funded wholly by the automobile
manufacturers. There is no requirement for a California
consumer to apply, nor utilize arbitration before
utilizing a lemon law attorney for legal representation.
are 3 potential resolutions to a arbitration hearing on a
California lemon law case. 1. Win. 2. Lose. 3. "Repair
Decision". This is where the arbitrator, prompted by the
automobile manufacturer’s representative, orders an
additional attempt at repairing the issue at question.
lemon law is based upon a written warranty...
California lemon law bases itself upon the presumption
(and requirement) that a written warranty be in place, and
that the "repair attempts" done are while the vehicle is
under such warranty. Automobile manufacturers have various
limited warranties. New vehicles have "bumper-to-bumper"
warranties, as well as longer-term "powertrain" warranties
(covers the engine/transmission/final drive). Some
automobile manufacturers have "diesel engine warranties"
that may extend to 100,000 miles. On used vehicles, there
is another type of warranty from the automobile
manufacturer. These are known as "Certified Pre-Owned" or
The automobile manufacturer gives the used vehicle
warranty coverage backed by the factory, just like a new