The California "Lemon
The California Lemon Law
(officially known as the Song-Beverly Consumer Warranty act, found in California
Civil Code sections 1790 et seq.) is a law designed to protect consumers who
purchase or lease warranted motor vehicles. If it is determined that a motor
vehicle is a "lemon," the motor vehicle's warrantor must repurchase or
replace the motor vehicle from the buyer.
In order to have a valid Lemon
Law claim, the following elements must be met:
1.) The vehicle must be
used some of the time for personal, family or household purposes. If a vehicle
is used exclusively for business purposes, the Lemon Law will not apply, but
other laws may provide certain remedies.
2.) The vehicle must have
defects covered by a warranty. There is a simple rule: no warranty means no
Lemon Law case.
3.) The warrantor must be
unable to repair the vehicle's warranty problems after a reasonable number of
repair attempts. What constitutes a reasonable number of repair attempts will
vary depending on the problem. For example, if a vehicle's brakes fail, two
repair attempts may be enough to establish a reasonable number. Generally,
safety-related or drivability concerns will require fewer repair attempts than
those which are not safety-related or affect drivability. However, only one
unsuccessful repair attempt is never sufficient to establish a lemon law claim.
Also relevant to determining
whether there has been a reasonable number of repair attempts is the number of
days the vehicle is out-of-service due to warranty repairs. The more days
out-of-service, the better the chance of establishing a reasonable number of
There is a common misconception
concerning the Lemon Law, that it only applies to vehicles that are less than 18
months old and have less than 18,000 miles. This belief is not true! The Lemon
Law will apply to a vehicle regardless of how old it is or how many miles is
has, so long as the vehicle is having defects that are under warranty.
Even if the warranty has expired,
the Lemon Law may apply. If the vehicle is still having defects that were
complained about and never properly repaired during the warranty period, a valid
Lemon Law claim may exist.
4.) The vehicle must
contain a problem covered by the warranty that substantially impairs the
vehicle's use, value or safety to the buyer/lessee. The Lemon Law, generally,
will not apply to vehicles with trivial or minor defects. Nevertheless, each
case must be judged independently taking into account the particular needs and
expectations of the particular vehicle's owner/lessee.
If the above mentioned elements
are met, the vehicle is a lemon. The vehicle's owner/lessee will be entitled to
a replacement vehicle or a refund of the vehicle's purchase/lease price.