If you’ve done a bit of research, you already know that the California Lemon Law essentially states the following: that if a warrantor sells you a defective vehicle, and if the defect cannot be fixed by the manufacturer after a reasonable number of attempts, you are entitled to either a full refund for your purchase of the vehicle or to a new replacement vehicle. But what exactly does the law mean by “a reasonable number of attempts”? The answer to this frequently asked question depends on several factors which vary from case to case. Here’s a brief overview of how the CA Lemon Laws determine what counts as “a reasonable number”.

As Seriousness of Defect Goes Up, Number of Attempts Goes Down
The seriousness of a car defect is measured by how much of a safety threat it poses to driver and passenger(s). Brake failure, for example, would be considered a very serious defect posing immediate safety risks. In such a case, two or even just one repair attempt would be deemed reasonable. If the defect is not an obvious safety threat, e.g. a malfunctioning turning signal, then the reasonable number of attempts might be three or more. Keep in mind that each Lemon Law case is different, and the number of repair attempts deemed reasonable will vary depending on the exact nature of each case.

Buyer Must Have Contacted the Manufacturer at Least Once
In order for the California Lemon Law to apply, the buyer must have contacted the manufacturer directly at least once about the problem, and it is the manufacturer or the manufacturer’s agents that must be allowed a reasonable number of attempts to fix the problem before the car is declared a Lemon. In other words, if the buyer detects a problem and tries to get it repaired at an independent car shop, this repair attempt may not count towards his Lemon Law case. Again, the buyer must contact the manufacturer directly, and the manufacturer must be given the opportunity to try to fix the problem if it so chooses.

The 30 Days Rule
Additionally, if the car is out of service for more than 30 days due to repairs for any number of problems during the first 18 months or 18,000 miles after purchase, then the car can be labeled a Lemon, regardless of the number of repair attempts.

California Auto Lemon Law is a Guide
It’s important for car buyers to remember that the California Lemon Law is a guide meant to help in the settlement of legal disputes. It is by no means a set of absolute rules. A court judge or arbitrator is ultimately the one who decides whether a reasonable number of repairs have been attempted based on the evidence provided by the buyer and the manufacturer. In most cases, the manufacturer will try to argue that additional attempts are warranted, and it is up to the consumer to prove that their case warrants fewer repair attempts.