Vehicle Problems Covered Under Lemon Law

Exactly What Problems Are and Are Not Covered under California’s Lemon Laws?

man repairing carWe are often asked which vehicle problems qualify under CA Lemon Law and which do not. There are a host of problems too numerous to detail that are covered by the lemon law, but they normally show up as symptoms affecting one or more systems, such as:
  • The brake system
  • Engine operations
  • Transmission system
  • Suspension system
  • Steering system
  • Coolant system
  • Electrical system
  • Mechanical doors and latches

If these have been the subject of repeated repairs, you may wish to talk to an experienced, passionate, and knowledgeable attorney about your possible case. We can help you understand your vehicle’s defects as well as your options for legal action. To meet our team, get your questions answered, or to request a private, complimentary case evaluation, contact us today.

Defining a Material Defect

Very generally speaking, you may have a lemon on your hands if you can prove that it is a material defect. The definition of material defect is a defect that affects the use, value, or safety of a vehicle.

If a defect affects a vehicle’s use, it means that you cannot drive the vehicle in the way that it was intended to be driven.

If a defect affects a vehicle’s value, it means that you can’t sell the vehicle for the price that it would be worth if not for the defect.

If a defect affects a vehicle’s safety, it means that the vehicle can’t be driven without putting the driver, their passengers, and others on the road in danger.

A Sampling of Vehicle Defects or Symptoms of Defects Often Covered by Lemon Law in California

While the most important aspect of the lemon law to understand is the definition of a material defect, it is also helpful to know some of the more common material defects that lead to lemon replacement or reimbursement. Here are just a handful of common material defectives in cars, trucks, and other motor vehicles:
  • Engine Stalling
  • Engine Not Starting
  • Engine Overheating
  • Hard Starting Engine
  • Rough Running Engine
  • Lack of Power
  • Engine Misfires
  • Transmission Slipping
  • Transmission Jerking
  • Transmission Hesitation
  • Hard Shifting From Transmission
  • “Surging” of Engine
  • Car “Pulling” To One Side
  • Engine Vibrations
  • Brake Vibrations
  • Steering Vibrations
  • Blown Fuses
  • Black Smoke from Exhaust
  • Turbocharger Malfunctions
  • Check Engine Light Coming on
  • Airbag Light Coming on
  • ABS Light Coming on
  • Other Warning Lights Coming on
  • Defective Brakes
  • Premature Brake Wear
  • Abnormal Brake Noises
  • Defects in the Suspension
  • Oil Leaks
  • Fuel Leaks
  • Transmission Fluid Leaks
  • Coolant Leaks
  • Power Steering Leaks
  • Electrical Malfunctions
  • Engine Running Hot
  • Malfunctioning Headlights or Tail-lights
  • Malfunctioning Turning Signals or Brake Lights
  • Defective Airbags
  • Premature Tire Wear
  • Uneven Tire Wear
  • Flickering Dash Lights
  • Malfunctioning Air Conditioning
  • Malfunctioning Windows, Doors, Etc.
  • Abnormal Noises

Please note: This is not an exhaustive list. You could have problems that qualify your vehicle as a “lemon” which do not appear here. As we stated above, any defect that affects the use, value, or safety of your car may be covered by your warranty and may qualify you for a replacement vehicle or a refund.

If your vehicle is covered by a written warranty and you have had a repeated problem with one or more of the symptoms listed above (or other problems or symptoms), we’d like to hear from you. Please use our FREE Evaluation Form for a free consultation. Even if you are unsure whether your defect is covered by your warranty, or whether your defect is a material defect, we can examine the evidence in your case and explain to you our thoughts on whether you might own a lemon.

Never Drive an Unsafe Vehicle

It is very important to understand that many of the above auto issues render a vehicle unsafe for a driver to operate. If your car is suffering from engine, brake, or steering issues, discontinue use of the vehicle. If your vehicle is having issues with safety features like defective dashboard lights or a defective airbag, you should realize that these issues could result in accidents, injury, and death. While some issues with lemons are simply costly or aggravating, others could seriously affect your safety and the safety of those around you.

Understanding Your Warranty

The defect that is impacting the use, value, or safety of your vehicle must be covered under your vehicle’s express warranty. This warranty is given to you upon the purchase or lease of your new or used car and can often be found in your glove compartment along with your vehicle’s user’s manual. You should read your warranty closely before you purchase your vehicle, especially to understand your own obligations, such as regular car maintenance.

The issues and problems above are included in most car warranties. However, there may be exceptions if:

  • The defect is due to a traffic accident or another form of abuse or misuse by the driver.
  • The defect is related to an aftermarket part, such as a custom suspension.
  • The defect is the result of common, everyday wear.
  • You did not properly maintain your vehicle.

Understanding Repair Attempts and Shop Time

In order to get a refund or replacement vehicle, you must first prove that you gave your car or truck manufacturer a reasonable opportunity to fix the problem through repairs. If your vehicle has spent weeks in the shop or gone in multiple times for related issues, you likely have a case for a lemon.

It is vital to keep records of this repair work. Keeping and making copies of both your drop-off repair orders and your pick-up repair documents is imperative to building a case against your manufacturer – and proving that they have not been able to fix your car. Even if you have not kept a full record of repairs, you may ask your dealership for a copy of your file or for their record of warranty claims they’ve made to the manufacturer regarding your vehicle.

Curious if Your Vehicle Problems Covered? Contact Our Lawyer

The problems and defects listed above do not begin to cover all of the problems that are addressed under lemon laws in the state of California – they are simply a list of common problems and symptoms. In order to better understand your case, and to begin to take action against your vehicle’s manufacturer, please contact the law offices of Douglas D. Law, Esq. for your FREE consultation today. We can help you collect evidence, file for a refund, and get justice for your lemon – and we can start today.

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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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