Call For A FREE Consultation


  Norman Taylor & Associates
  January 5, 2023
A mechanic working on the engine of a car while wearing gloves.

Just because your vehicle has a defect doesn’t automatically make it a lemon. 

California lemon law only applies if the manufacturer fails to repair the defect after being given a “reasonable opportunity” to repair it. 

But what does this really mean? What’s considered reasonable? And when can you move forward with a lemon law claim? It all depends on:

  • The number of times the car is taken in for service 
  • The severity of the defect 
  • Days the car is out of commission 

At Norman Taylor & Associates, we’ve handled over 12,000 lemon law cases with a 98% success rate and are dedicated to helping consumers understand their rights. 

Here’s what you need to know about giving car dealerships a reasonable opportunity to repair vehicle defects. 

What Does Reasonable Opportunities to Repair Mean?

Under most state lemon laws, a manufacturer is entitled to a “reasonable opportunity to repair” a defect in a vehicle before legal action is taken.  

In many cases, when something is wrong with a car it can be easily fixed with one trip to the mechanic. Even if it’s a major problem, the vehicle isn’t automatically a lemon just

because it isn’t perfect — a car only qualifies as a lemon if the issue can not be fixed after a reasonable number of opportunities to repair it fail.   

This “reasonable opportunities” stipulation is what separates a regular maintenance issue from a lemon. 

There are a few main components to defining reasonable opportunity to repair: 

  • The number of times the car is taken in for service 
  • The severity of the defect 
  • The cumulative number of days the car is out of commission

What is a Reasonable Number of Repairs? 

Today, many states, including California, presume that four repair attempts for the same defect are enough. If the defect is a serious safety risk, consumers may seek legal help after fewer attempts.

If the issue poses a severe threat to the driver’s safety, such as failed brakes or a bad transmission that causes the car to shut down in the middle of a busy freeway, even one or two repair attempts can be reasonable. 

Before lemon laws existed, it could be endless; it was not uncommon for manufacturers to insist they be allowed yet another chance to repair even after twenty or thirty failed attempts. Now, consumers have a clear idea of how many repair attempts are reasonable and know when they are eligible to seek legal help for a lemon law case. 

That said, if you aren’t sure whether or not your car meets the threshold for a reasonable number of repair attempts, contact our lemon law attorneys. We can explain your options and figure out if you have a lemon on your hands.  

Days the Vehicle is Out of Service 

California lemon law can also come into play if a car has been sitting in a shop unable to be repaired for a specific number of days. Also, these days don’t have to be consecutive; they can add up over months. 

In general, a cumulative total of thirty or more days in a repair facility is considered a reasonable opportunity to repair the vehicle.  

The car doesn’t have to be in the shop for the same defect to qualify as a lemon. A car can be a lemon if it’s brought in for multiple defects that require continuous repair, even if the dealership successfully fixes each one.

For example, let’s say a vehicle owner brings their car in for a transmission problem that takes the dealership two weeks to fix. 

They get their car back, and everything’s fine until their power steering starts acting up. This fix takes another two weeks, meaning the car was out of commission for a month in total. While the dealership fixed both issues, the vehicle had multiple defects that made it inoperable and could qualify it as a lemon. 

What Counts as an “Attempt”?

We consider an “attempt” any time a vehicle owner takes their car to a dealership to have a defect fixed. (We want to mention here that it’s where you take your car for repairs if you think it’s a lemon is very important — we recommend taking it to the manufacturer’s dealership.)

However, this one can get a little tricky, mainly because manufacturers want to argue about what is considered an “attempt”. 

Manufacturers Like to Disagree

Manufacturers will often claim a repair visit should count as a repair attempt only if their dealership actually performed work. 

If, for example, a dealership inspects the car, cannot find a problem, and ends up not performing work, this likely won’t be considered an attempt. Even if a vehicle owner brings their car in eight times, the manufacturer will only consider those visits as a “repair attempt” if they worked on the car.    

This argument doesn’t hold water. All of your repair visits count, regardless of what the dealer does or does not do.

The only duty you have as a vehicle owner is to give the manufacturer an opportunity to repair the defect by bringing it in for service. It’s not your fault if the dealer chooses to not take advantage of that opportunity. 

Do You Think Your Car is a Lemon? 

Have you taken your car in for repair multiple times, but the dealership is unable to fix it? You may have a lemon on your hands (even if it’s a used or certified pre-owned car!) 

The best course of action for any consumer who suspects they have a lemon is to contact a qualified lemon law attorney right away.

Schedule my consultation

Contact Us

  • 425 West Broadway, Suite 220
    Glendale, CA 91204

Regular Hours

  • Monday - Friday
  • 8:30 AM - 5:30 PM

The information on this website is for general information purposes only. Nothing on this site should be taken as legal advice for any individual case or situation. This information is not intended to create, and receipt or viewing does not constitute, an attorney-client relationship.


We'll review your case and assess the best possible outcome.

This field is for validation purposes and should be left unchanged.