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California Lemon Law FAQ

Protecting Consumers from Automotive Manufacturers Since 1987

Frequently Asked Questions about Lemon Law

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California Lemon Law FAQ

Have you purchased or leased a vehicle that has defects? If so, you may have a lemon. 

You likely have a lot of questions during this difficult time and want reliable answers. At Norman Taylor & Associates, our California lemon law lawyers are dedicated to providing clients with the information needed to achieve a successful result.

Rather than walking blindly into your lemon law case, read through the answers to frequently asked questions below to develop a clear perspective of your legal situation.

After you have gained all the basic information, we encourage you to ask more specific questions about your case in our FREE case evaluation.


Lemon Law Basics


How Does the Lemon Law Work?

California’s lemon law is designed to protect consumers who have purchased vehicles with significant defects. The first step in any lemon law case is noticing a defect and bringing it to the manufacturer’s or authorized dealer’s attention for repair. If the manufacturer fails to repair the defect on the first attempt, your vehicle may already qualify as a lemon. However, in most cases, you’ll need to provide the manufacturer with a reasonable number of repair attempts before pursuing compensation.

The next step is often arbitration. Many states require you to try resolving the matter informally through arbitration before filing a lawsuit. During the arbitration, you and the manufacturer present evidence to a panel, which will then issue a ruling on the compensation you deserve. If you’re unsatisfied with their decision, you can file a lawsuit. That said, with an experienced lemon law attorney by your side, the manufacturer will likely settle instead of going to trial.


How Long Does the Lemon Law Last?

The California lemon law applies as long as your vehicle is covered by any warranty sold with the vehicle and for some time after that. If your car is still under warranty and is experiencing significant defects, you may be eligible for compensation under the lemon law.


What Is a Reasonable Number of Repair Attempts?

The manufacturer is allowed a “reasonable” number of attempts to repair the vehicle. While California’s lemon law doesn’t specify an exact number, it’s generally considered three or four repair attempts. However, this may depend on the seriousness of the issue, the number of miles driven between repairs, and the age of the vehicle.


How Long Does a Lemon Law Case Take?

While it’s hard to provide an exact timeline, most cases are resolved in a matter of months rather than weeks or years. Case length usually depends on manufacturer cooperation, arbitration needs, and settlement talks. 
Rest assured, our lemon law attorneys will work diligently to resolve your case quickly.


Do All States Have Lemon Laws?

Yes, every state in the United States has some form of lemon law or auto warranty laws. However, the specific details and requirements of each state’s laws may differ. In California, they’re found in the Song-Beverly Consumer Warranty Act, which is part of the California Civil Code.


If I Purchased My Vehicle in Another State, but Live in California, Which State’s Lemon Laws Apply?

According to the California Department of Consumer Affairs, the California lemon law only applies to vehicles sold or leased in the state of California. However, if you live in California but purchased your car in another state, and the delivery of your vehicle happened in California, then lemon law would apply. If the delivery occurred out of state, the law of the state where you made your purchase would apply.


Does Lemon Law Apply to Used Cars?

California lemon law protects you even with a used car, but only if it has a written warranty.

One catch: The law usually doesn’t apply to repairs made using the remaining warranty from the previous owner. However, a recent court decision seems to give an exception for manufacturer-backed warranties on Certified Pre-Owned Vehicles.

If your car was sold “As Is,” lemon law doesn’t apply, but there might be other options. Consumer fraud laws could come into play. Unsure if your case qualifies? Speak with a member of our firm!




What Does the California Lemon Law Cover?

The California lemon law covers vehicle “nonconformities,” which refers to defects that substantially impair the vehicle’s use, value, or safety. If your car is deemed a “lemon,” you may be entitled to a replacement vehicle or a refund. This compensation includes your down payment, monthly payments, registration fees, taxes, and incidental expenses such as rental car or tow expenses.


What Is a Lemon Law Buyback?

A lemon law buyback occurs when the manufacturer repurchases your car from you. In a buyback, you’re reimbursed for your down payment, monthly payments, current registration fee, and any outstanding auto loan. The manufacturer then takes possession of the vehicle and brands the title as a lemon law buyback.

The amount refunded to you may be reduced by a mileage offset, calculated based on the car’s mileage when the problem began. Other items, such as aftermarket service contracts or accessories, may also be deducted from the refund.


Can Lemon Law Cars Be Resold?

Yes, lemon cars can be resold by the manufacturer. To do so, the manufacturer must repair the defect(s) for which the vehicle was repurchased and fully disclose to the subsequent buyer that the car was a lemon law buyback and what repairs were made.


What Is the Better Business Bureau Auto Line?

The Better Business Bureau (BBB) Auto Line is a free program registered with the California Department of Consumer Affairs. It performs arbitrations for consumers with grievances against auto manufacturers

If you have a dispute with your vehicle’s manufacturer regarding warranty issues, you can file a claim with the BBB Auto Line. However, it’s often more of an obstacle than a remedy for most consumers. The process is often slanted in favor of the manufacturer, and the resolutions typically provide for additional repairs rather than the buyback or refund that consumers may be entitled to.

Working with a lemon law attorney is usually a more effective route for resolving lemon law cases.


Have Questions About Your Lemon Law Case?

You likely never expected to own a lemon. Fortunately, we provide you with as much information as you need.

Norman Taylor & Associates has assisted thousands of individuals seeking refunds and replacements. Call 818-244-3905 today and get your questions answered by our responsive staff.

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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.


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