What types of products are covered under the California Lemon Law?

Skilled California Lemon Law Lawyer Explains Products Covered

california lemon law vehicleCalifornia’s Lemon Law is in place to protect consumers from manufacturers who produce defective products–or manufacturers who refuse to fix defective products within a reasonable amount of time. But what products are covered by the California law and which are not? Does the California law only cover motor vehicles? Does the law only cover new and not used products? Does the law only cover items that are under warranty? Let’s take a closer look.

This California Law applies to all consumer products, including new and used motor vehicles sold within the state with an express written warranty. Motor vehicles may include:

  • Cars.
  • Trucks and pickup trucks.
  • Motor homes and RVs/Recreational Vehicles.
  • Motorcycles.
  • Boats.
  • All-terrain vehicles, such as four wheelers, that have been registered under the California Vehicle Code.
  • SUVs/Sports Utility Vehicles.

The lemon law falls under the provisions of the Song-Beverly Consumer Warranty Act, so although the 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.

What Are Consumer Products?

The Song-Beverly Consumer Warranty Act defines consumer products as “any new product or part thereof that is used, bought, or leased for use primarily for personal, family, or household purposes, except for clothing and consumables.” Consumable consist of anything that is consumed, such as food, cosmetics, and drugstore items like medicine and toothpaste.

Under California Law, the producer of “consumer products” must:

  • Maintain repair facilities in California so that consumers can easily get defective items repaired.
  • Repair defective items within 30 days (or within a reasonable window of time).
  • Replace items or reimburse customers in the event that a defective item cannot be fixed after a reasonable number of attempts or over a reasonable amount of time.

In order to call a product a lemon, it has to have a substantial defect that could not be repaired in a reasonable number of attempts. Lemons are required to be replaced or repurchased by the manufacturer.

What Is A New Motor Vehicle?

What is defined legally as a new motor vehicle? California’s Lemon Law, 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 law. A demonstrator vehicle is defined under California law as a motor vehicle used by a dealer to demonstrate the qualities and characteristics common to vehicles of the same or similar model and type.

Are Used Cars Covered By This California Law?

If you have purchased a used car in California that is still under a manufacturer’s warranty, you may still have a lemon case if your motor vehicle is defective and cannot be reasonably repaired. Used cars include cars that have been repurchased by a manufacturer and resold to consumers with a new manufacturer warranty, such as certified pre-owned vehicles.

Note that pursuing your case with a used car may involve discovering the repair history of your used vehicle as well as the maintenance history of your used vehicle. Many car manufacturer warranties stress that the vehicle must be properly maintained and not abused. However, you may still have a case if you believe that your used car dealership was deceptive when you purchased the car; for example, if your used car dealership lied about the car’s repair history, maintenance history, mileage, or accident history.

Six Exceptions To California’s Lemon Law

While the California law and the Song-Beverly Consumer Warranty Act cover a large number of products and vehicles, there are some notable exceptions–such as the consumable items listed above. Below, we’ve listed six other exceptions that could affect your defective motor vehicle case in California.
  • California law’s definition of a motor vehicle covers the chassis, chassis cab and the portion of a motor home responsible for the driving or propelling force, but does not include any portion designed, used or maintained primarily for human habitation.
  • The law also does not include 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.
  • All vehicle parts not manufactured by the original vehicle manufacturer are known as aftermarket parts and will not be covered. For example, if you customized your new vehicle after purchase, and this customization caused issues with your vehicle, you may not be able to use the law to your advantage.
  • 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. To be sure of coverage, follow all requirements under the terms of the warranty for proper vehicle maintenance and proper use of the vehicle. Service and maintain the vehicle according to the manufacturer’s recommended schedule and review all recommendations contained within the owner’s manual. It would also be beneficial to keep a service record with repair orders and receipts. Disclose any incident that might have lead to a broken or defective part or vehicle.
  • California law specifically applies to disputes over the manufacturer’s express written warranty. If a motor vehicle was purchased without an express written warranty, California law will not apply. Always purchase a motor vehicle with an express written warranty in case of manufacturer defects.
  • The law will also not apply to equipment or defects not specifically covered under the manufacturer’s express warranty. For this reason, it is vital to read your warranty carefully and go over any questions that you have with the person selling you your car.

There are several ways that California Lemon Law treats motor vehicles differently than other consumer goods. For example, While the owners of defective consumer goods can either get their defective product repurchased or replaced, the owners of a defective motor vehicle can demand to have their car repurchased. There are also specific laws regarding how many repair attempts renders a motor vehicle a lemon. The best way to understand how your defective product purchase should be handled under the law is to speak with an experienced California Lemon Law attorney.

Get Your Questions About California Lemon Law Answered By An Attorney

The technical aspects and details of this California law can be difficult to understand, or to apply to your own legal case–and every case is different. That’s what attorneys are for. Douglas D. Law and his team are here to help, from examining your case to collecting evidence to walking you through the legal process from beginning to end.

Contact us today for any questions you may have about the products covered by the California Lemon Law. We offer all individuals and families who have been affected by a defective motor vehicle a free, private meeting to discuss your potential case.

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