Lemon Law Attorney in California

Lemon Law Process

Lemon Law Process

When you purchase a vehicle, especially one with a warranty, you expect to be able to use it for several years without problems. However, that’s not always what happens.

The Song-Beverly Consumer Warranty Protection Act, also known as California’s Lemon Law, provides California consumers legal remedies for certain defective vehicles that qualify under the law. However, California’s lemon laws don’t apply to vehicle problems that aren’t covered by a warranty. For instance, problems resulting from the vehicle purchaser’s unreasonable or unauthorized use of the vehicle aren’t covered under lemon laws.

To receive protections under the California lemon law, the vehicle owner must:

  • Own or lease a vehicle that is still under manufacturer or dealership warranty
  • Provide the vehicle manufacturer or its authorized dealerships with a reasonable number of attempts to repair the defective vehicle

The vehicle’s owner must seek repairs within the warranty period. Unfortunately, if they wait to have their car repaired until after the warranty expires, California vehicle lemon law protections won’t apply.

Consumer Remedies Available Per California Lemon Laws

Suppose a California vehicle purchaser suspects their vehicle is defective. In that case, they should take it to the manufacturer or its authorized dealership to have it diagnosed and repaired. If the manufacturer’s authorized repair facility can’t repair the vehicle after a reasonable number of attempts and the vehicle qualifies under the lemon law, the owner can decide if they want to:

  •   Return the defective car to the retail seller for a repurchase


  •   If provided as an option by the manufacturer, bring the defective vehicle back in exchange for a comparable vehicle.

Vehicle Repurchase

A valid repurchase recovery includes:

  • Refunds of any down payment 
  • Refunds of paid monthly finance payments
  • A total pay-off of the outstanding balance of the vehicle loan
  • Reimbursement for incidental expenses, including repair costs, rental car expenses, towing costs, and other related costs
  • Collateral expenses— for example, sales tax and finance charges

 Repurchase damages for a leased vehicle should include the following:

  • Refunds of the lease inception payment
  • Refunds of all monthly lease payments made
  • Paying the remaining lease obligations
  • Reimbursement for incidental expenses, including repair costs, rental car expenses, towing costs, and other related costs
  • Collateral expenses– for example, sales tax and finance charges

You should note that whether your lemon law claim includes a purchased or leased vehicle, the manufacturer is legally entitled to a credit for the owner’s good use before the vehicle was first brought in for repairs. This is conducted through a mileage offset credit to be deducted from the vehicle owner’s recovery.

Vehicle Replacement

Even though vehicle replacements are recognized under California’s lemon law, over the past couple of decades, vehicle manufacturers rarely offer them. Suppose the manufacturer decides to repurchase the car and refund the consumer’s money pursuant to the Song-Beverly Act. In that case, they have the right to do so instead of offering a replacement to the consumer. So, a consumer can’t demand they receive a replacement vehicle instead of a repurchase if the defective vehicle’s manufacturer doesn’t offer a replacement vehicle. Scarcity and inventory issues are likely the cause of this being the unpopular option, especially post-COVID-19.

Likewise, a manufacturer can’t force a replacement vehicle on a consumer if that’s not what they want. A consumer has the right to demand a repurchase instead of a replacement, likely because many consumers understandably lose trust in the vehicle’s make or model and don’t want to take chances on a new one.

The irreparable vehicle’s manufacturer, therefore, has the following options to address the matter:

  • Service or repair the defective vehicle to conform to the applicable warranty within a reasonable number of attempts
  • Repurchase the vehicle according to the California vehicle lemon law, including a refund to the buyer and taking the vehicle back
  • Replace the defective vehicle with a vehicle that is reasonably comparable to the defective vehicle (if the manufacturer offers and the consumer so elects).

Is your Vehicle a Lemon?

Whether your vehicle is used or new, you have protections under California’s lemon laws if it is still under manufacturer or dealership warranty. If you’ve allowed the dealership or retailer multiple attempts at fixing your vehicle and they have been unable to do so, or it’s been in the repair shop for over 30 days (either consecutive or non-consecutive), you may qualify to file a lemon law claim. However, it’s best to have a skilled Orange County lemon law attorney on your side to help you. At the Law Office of Michael S. Humphries, we help consumers just like you who are ready to exercise their rights regarding their lemon vehicle. Contact us at 562-493-0289 or online to schedule a complimentary case consultation today.

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