No, the California Lemon Law does not apply to all products. The lemon law does apply to consumer products, including new and used motor vehicles (cars, trucks, motor homes, motorcycles, boats, all-terrain vehicles and SUVs), sold within the state with an express written warranty. The California Legislature drafted this section of the law to provide consumers with protection from manufacturers of materially defective products. Because there are many issues that may arise during litigation, whether a certain product is covered under the lemon law can appear ambiguous. Should a consumer believe that they have purchased a product that has proven to be materially defective, they should first find an experienced and competent lemon law attorney to advise them on whether their product is eligible for coverage under this section of California law.
Initially, it is important to consider whether a product was purchased within the state of California. Because coverage can vary from state to state, products purchased outside of California will be ineligible for coverage under California law, but may receive coverage under another state’s lemon law. It is also important to note whether the consumer purchased the product with a manufacturer’s express written warranty. By filing a lemon law claim, consumers are asking a judge to make the product manufacturer honor their express written warranty and provide relief for the consumer who purchased a materially defective product. Consumers who purchase or lease a product without an express written warranty will be ineligible for coverage under the lemon law.
The specific lemon law provisions fall under the general protection of the Song-Beverly Consumer Warranty Act, so although the lemon law specifically designates relief for new motor vehicles, the Song-Beverly Consumer Warranty Act contains many general rules applicable to any consumer product sold within the state as long as it was sold with a warranty. Section 1793.22(e)(2) of the California Civil Code, defines new motor vehicles as motor vehicles bought for or used primarily for personal, family or household purposes. Many vehicles purchased or used primarily for business may also be covered. Dealer-owned vehicles, demonstrator vehicles and all other motor vehicles sold with a manufacturer’s express written warranty are all included under this provision.
Consumers often inquire as to whether mobile homes are afforded coverage under the lemon law. While there is legal protection for the chassis, chassis cab and the portion of a motor home responsible for the driving or propelling force, any portion designed, used or maintained primarily for human habitation will likely not be afforded coverage.
The law also specifies products that are not entitled to coverage, including motorcycles or motor vehicles that have not been registered under the California Vehicle Code because they have been designated for use exclusively as off-road vehicles. Also, vehicle parts not manufactured by the original vehicle manufacturer, commonly referred to as aftermarket parts, will not be covered under the lemon law because the manufacturer did not provided a warranty for those parts.
Consumers should also take care to follow all requirements under the terms of the manufacturer’s express written warranty for proper vehicle maintenance and proper use of the vehicle. Inadequate vehicle maintenance or improper vehicle use may be classified as vehicle abuse and consumers could be refused coverage under the law. Motor vehicles that are found to have problems caused by abuse after delivery to the consumer will not be covered under California’s Lemon Law.