Filing Claims Under California Lemon Law

Leading Lemon Law Attorney Serving California

If you would like to read the full text, California’s Lemon Law, covered under the Song-Beverly Consumer Warranty Act, is defined in Section 1793.22 of the California Civil Code. However, if you want to generally learn about how this California law could affect you, your defective vehicle, and filing claims, read on below.

This law provides relief to consumers who purchase a new motor vehicle with applicable express warranties only to find that their vehicle has chronic material defects that aren’t reasonably fixable. The law falls under the provisions of the Song-Beverly Consumer Warranty Act, so although it 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.

A consumer is entitled to relief if a vehicle continues failing to conform to an express warranty after a reasonable number of attempts have been made to correct the problem. Vehicle nonconformity exists when the use, value or safety of the vehicle is substantially impaired.

What Is A Reasonable Number of Repair Attempts?

This law should be considered a guide, not an absolute rule, which aids in determining what is a reasonable number of repair attempts. It’s possible that a judge or arbitrator can assume a manufacturer was given an adequate opportunity to repair the vehicle even if all conditions under the law have not been met. And, even if all the conditions have been met, the manufacturer has an opportunity to argue for additional repair attempt opportunities.

How Can You Qualify for Relief Under This Law?

To qualify for relief, several conditions must be met.

  • If the vehicle nonconformity results in a condition that is likely to cause death or serious bodily injury when the vehicle is driven,
  • the consumer must have taken the vehicle to the manufacturer or its agent for repairs at least two times, and
  • have directly notified the manufacturer of the problem and the need for repair.


  • If the vehicle fails to conform but the vehicle nonconformity is not one that would result in serious bodily injury or death,
  • the consumer must present the vehicle to the manufacturer or its agent for repair on at least four occasions, and
  • directly notify the manufacturer of the problem and the need for repair.

Repair Time Limits Under California Lemon Law

California also provides a time limitation for vehicles that are completely out of service because the manufacturer or its agent failed to conform the vehicle to applicable express warranties.

If the vehicle is out of service for a cumulative total of more than thirty days from the point of delivery, the consumer must directly notify the manufacturer of the problem and the need for repair only if the manufacturer has clearly and conspicuously disclosed to the buyer the requirements and the relief a consumer is entitled to. The manufacturer will have adequately disclosed such information to a consumer through the express warranty or within the owner’s manual.

If the manufacturer has clearly disclosed the requirements of California’s Lemon Law and the relief a consumer is entitled to under the law – the consumer is required to notify the manufacturer of the vehicle nonconformity and the need for repair. He or she must do this by mailing a notification to an address specified clearly by the manufacturer in the warranty or the owner’s manual. This thirty-day time limitation may be extended only if failure to perform repairs is beyond the control of the manufacturer or its agents.

Under this law, if a seller of any consumer product sold with a warranty fails to repair that product within a reasonable number of repair attempts, the consumer is entitled to relief. This California law requires the manufacturer to either replace the product – or reimburse the consumer in an amount equal to the purchase price less the amount directly attributable to use by the consumer prior to the vehicle nonconformity.

Exceptions To The Law

Not all vehicles in all circumstances can be replaced or refunded under this law. For example, if your car is defective because of an aftermarket auto part, the manufacturer is likely not responsible for replacing or refunding your vehicle. In addition, if you did not properly maintain your vehicle – or if you misused your vehicle – according to your warranty, this act may not be on your side. Finally, if your vehicle is not under warranty, you may not have a case.

Are Leased Cars Covered by California Lemon Law?

Even though the language in the law is geared towards people who have bought cars from dealerships, people who have leased cars are also covered by the act. In these cases, consumers must report their defective car or truck to the leasing company and petition them for a refund or replacement.

Company Cars & California Lemon Law

If you have a vehicle that you use primarily for business purposes, it is most likely covered under this California regulation in the same way that a personal, private, or family vehicle is covered. The only two exceptions are if the vehicle weighs over 10,000 pounds (such as a commercial truck) or if your company has over five vehicles in its fleet.

What You May Be Owed by the Manufacturer after Buying a Lemon

What kind of compensation may you be owed after buying a vehicle with material defects? Depending on the details of your case, you may deserve several things under California law, including a complete refund, a replacement vehicle, and/or a car loan repayment. You may also be owed refunds for your car registration fees, your down payment, and financing costs.

Lemon Law Statute of Limitations

It is important to understand that you only have four years to file your claim, though the sooner you file your case, the more likely you will have a successful outcome. The four-year statute of limitations begins when the consumer knew (or should have known) that their car was defective.

Note that the four-year statute of limitation is not set in stone and you should speak to a California Lemon attorney about your legal options for action even if you believe that it is too late to file your claim.

Get Justice After Buying A Lemon In California; Connect With Trusted Lemon Law Lawyer

Buying or leasing a defective vehicle can be both dangerous and expensive. If you have purchased or leased a vehicle with an express warranty that has a material defect, you have rights under the law for reimbursement or replacement. To learn more about your legal options, and whether California Lemon Law can help you, we invite you to call our offices for a free, private legal consultation. Contact us today to speak with an experienced lawyer.

What Our Clients Say


"Doug and Kristen were invaluable in getting GM to repurchase my Corvette due to the driveline defects in the car that Chevrolet could not fix after 9 visits. GM and the Chevy dealerships in La Mesa and Mission Valley were not helpful, giving me absurd excuses, runarounds and one time ultimately refusing to write the defects up after demonstrating them to one of their technicians. In short, I highly recommend them to handle any lemon law case you may have."

- Anonymous


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