What is California’s Lemon Law, and When Can You Use It?

If you have ever dealt with a chronic issue affecting your car or truck, you know how frustrating it can be. No matter how many times you take your vehicle to the mechanic, you are met with no clear answers and the defect is never permanently fixed. Suddenly, you find that your car is spending more time at the mechanic than on the road! So, what can you do if you find yourself in this situation? Let’s take a look at California’s Lemon Law and how it can protect consumers like you who realize that they have a defective vehicle on their hands.

What the Law Says

The state of California has one of the strongest consumer protection laws in the nation. Known informally as California’s “Lemon Law,” the Song-Beverly Consumer Warranty Act was put in place to give consumers certain rights, should they discover that they have been sold a defective vehicle. Essentially, all new vehicles and used or leased vehicles (that are still under warranty) that are sold or leased in California must be replaced or bought back by the automaker if they do not function properly. Keep in mind that the law applies for only 18 months after the vehicle is purchased or leased, and to those cars or trucks with fewer than 18,000 miles driven. In order to qualify as a “lemon,” it must be shown that the vehicle in question suffers from a persistent and/or serious issue that cannot be repaired even after a “reasonable amount” of attempts have been made to correct the problem.

Defining “Reasonable Amount”

Although the law uses the term “reasonable amount” to characterize the number of attempts an individual or mechanic must make to fix the issue, this language can seem a bit vague. While the law itself fails to assign a number value to the term “reasonable amount,” there are a few additional guidelines that can help consumers gain further insight into whether this law can apply to their situation. In order to be considered a lemon, the vehicle must have documented proof that the manufacturer or dealership has attempted to repair the issue at least two times without success—and that, if left unrepaired, the issue seriously endangers the safety of the vehicle’s occupants or other drivers. If the issue is less likely to cause injury or death, documentation showing that there have been four or more attempts to fix the problem must be shown in order for the vehicle to meet the legal definition of a lemon.

Demonstrating Hardship

Another way for an owner to demonstrate that the car is a lemon is to provide documentation that shows that the vehicle has been out of service, or “in the shop,” for over thirty days. It’s important to recognize that the 30 days do not have to be consecutive; if the total number of days you car has been in the shop for repairs over the course of several months exceeds 30 days, then the Lemon Law can take effect. Ultimately, if you can show that your car has been out of commission for an excessive amount of time, inconveniencing you and making you late for work, the Lemon Law is there to help you redress the situation.

Want to learn more about how California’s Lemon Law can help you? Reach out to the knowledgeable lemon law attorneys at Lemon Law Partners, LLP to discuss your options. Call (510) 944-0336 today to schedule a free evaluation of your case.

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