What are the California Lemon Laws?

If I have problems with my new vehicle and the manufacturer or dealer has not satisfied my complaints, what are my rights?

A. California has consumer protection laws. called the “Lemon Laws”.  If your situation qualifies, you will be able to have the manufacturer take your vehicle back and recover most of your monies.

How do I know if my situation qualifies under the “Lemon Laws”?

As long as the vehicle has a manufacturing defect which affects the safety, value, or use and the defect can not be repaired within a reasonable number of attempts by the manufacturer or the dealer, then the vehicle is likely to fall under the “Lemon Law” protection.  The original repairs must occur within the original warranty period supplied at purchase.

Do the California “Lemon Laws” cover used vehicles and demonstrations?

Any used vehicle sold with an unused portion of the manufacturer’s new car warranty may also qualify as a used vehicle to be covered.

What is the “Lemon Laws” presumption?

The California “Lemon Law” presumption is merely a legal device which is only meaningful if negotioations with the manufacturer fail, and you must resort to litigation.  It then allows the consumer/plaintiff to establish, at trial, that he/she has met the plaintiff’s normal burden of proof that the vehicle is a “Lemon” and shifts the legal burden to the manufacturer to prove otherwise.

The vehicle must be for personal or small business use.

If you brought the vehicle to a dealer for repair of the same or similar problem four or more times during the first 18 months or 18,000 miles.  Or only two or more times if the manufacturing defect results in a condition that is likely to cause death or serious injury.  Or if it was out of service for a total of more than 30 days within that time.

Then the legal presumption is established.

Do I have to qualify for the “Legal Presumption” in order to obtain the benefits of the “Lemon Law”?

No. The presumption is neither a requirement nor a prerequisite.  There are many situations which do not exactly meet the “Lemon Law” presumption, but which may still entitle you to recover under the “Lemon Law”.  So long as the defect affects safety, value or use, and occurred within the warranty period, and cannot be repaired after a reasonable number of attempts, the vehicle is entitled to these legal protections.

What am I entitled to recover? Do I need to first go through arbitration?

If you qualify, you will be able to recover your down payment, (including registration fees, licensing fees, taxes, transportation costs), plus your total monthly lease or loan payments, plus a portion of your attorneys’ fees, less only a reasonable “usage fee” based on mileage as allowed under the California Lemon Laws.

And NO, you do not need to first go through arbitration to make a “Lemon Law” claim.  In fact, arbitration can be dangerous because if the decision is against you, that decision may later be used as evidence against you in any subsequent court action which you may file against the manufacturer.