Understanding the Basics of Lemon Law in California

When we buy a product, we expect that it has passed all the required safety inspections. Unfortunately, defective cars, trucks, and other motor vehicles sometimes slip through the cracks and wind up in the hands of unsuspecting consumers. Suddenly, the vehicle you bought or leased starts failing or breaking down, causing your stress levels to rise and making you hesitant to drive the car or truck because you worry about its safety. If you believe you have a defective vehicle on your hands, also known as a “lemon,” it’s essential to recognize that you have certain legal protections under California’s lemon laws. This legislation entitles consumers to obtain a replacement vehicle or a refund from the manufacturer responsible for selling them a lemon. The dedicated and friendly lemon law attorneys at Lemon Law Partners, LLP, are ready to assess the specifics of your case and help you identify the most strategic path forward. We encourage you to call our Berkeley office today to schedule a free evaluation of your case.

Lemon Law Basics in California

First, it’s helpful to get a sense of how California lemon laws protect consumers and provide them with legal remedies if they unknowingly purchase defective products. Essentially, cars, trucks, motorcycles, RVs, travel trailers, and other motor vehicles are typically covered under California lemon laws. New vehicles and used vehicles that are still under the manufacturer’s warranty that show signs of significant functional or mechanical problems may qualify as lemons, meaning the consumer is eligible for protection under the Song-Beverly Consumer Warranty Act. Let’s explore some general guidelines that govern the application of California lemon laws.

1. The Vehicle Must Be Under a Valid Manufacturer’s Warranty

In order for you to qualify for protection under the Song-Beverly Consumer Warranty Act, the vehicle you purchased must be under a valid warranty from the manufacturer. Even used vehicles may still have time left on the original warranty, allowing you to enjoy protection under California lemon laws. Additionally, if the problem was identified and you were busy attempting to fix the defect while the warranty expired, you may still qualify for lemon law protection.

2. The Defect Impacts the Vehicle’s Safety, Use, or Value

A successful lemon law claim must involve a vehicle that suffers from a defect that impairs its use, value, or safety. Safety defects are the most critical types of lemon law claims, so contact Lemon Law Partners, LLP, as soon as possible to explore your options. Claims involving impairment of use must show that your vehicle is incapable of performing a function it was purchased to accomplish, such as reliably transporting you from place to place. If the defect your car or truck is experiencing causes it to be worth less than a similar vehicle without the defect, you may pursue a lemon law claim based on an impairment of value. 

3. A Reasonable Number of Repair Attempts Have Been Unsuccessful

In order to move forward with a lemon law claim, you must prove that the defect persists even after you have made a “reasonable” number of attempts to repair the issue. A “reasonable” number generally translates to at least four attempts to fix the problem. However, if the defect threatens the vehicle’s safety (meaning the issue puts vehicle occupants at increased risk of injury or death), you may be able to receive legal remedies after only two repair attempts have been made. Since no two situations are identical, it’s best to discuss the details of your case with our lemon law experts to understand your options.

Legal Remedies Provided Under California Lemon Laws

If the manufacturer or its authorized dealer fails to repair the vehicle within a reasonable number of attempts, the consumer may obtain a full refund or a replacement vehicle. The consumer may also recover a full refund of any expenses incurred relating to the purchase, including sales tax, license and registration fees, finance charges, repairs, towing expenses, rental charges, and any other fees associated with the defective vehicle. In some cases, the consumer has been awarded civil penalties amounting to twice the damages in addition to the incurred expenses.

Do You Have a Lemon on Your Hands? Let’s Take Action Today.

You may have a lemon on your hands if your 2016-2024 new or used vehicle that’s still covered by the manufacturer’s warranty is experiencing recurring issues impairing its use, value, or safety. You will need to show that you have the manufacturer and its authorized dealers a reasonable amount of time to fix the defect that proved unsuccessful. In some cases, you may qualify for lemon law protection if your vehicle has been in the shop for at least 30 days in a row, rendering it useless to you while you wait for it to be repaired. No matter what the specific details of your situation may be, the knowledgeable and trusted attorneys at Lemon Law Partners, LLP, are ready to help you resolve your lemon-related woes and receive the remedies owed to you. Also, you do not need to worry about the financial aspects of pursuing a lemon law claim; the Song-Beverly Consumer Warranty Act compels the manufacturer to cover all attorney fees once we win your case. We encourage you to schedule your free case evaluation with us today to learn more.


For years, Lemon Law Partners, LLP, has been helping California consumers understand their legal rights and resolve their lemon law cases. Headquartered in Berkeley, we also serve clients in Sacramento, Oakland, San Francisco, San Jose, and all of California.

We invite you to call our office today to schedule a free case evaluation.

(510) 944-0336