What Exactly IS California’s Lemon Law?

Experienced Attorney Protecting California Consumers through the Lemon Law

You’ve probably heard of the California Lemon Law, but what is it and what can it do for you?

The short answer is that if you have a consumer product, for example, a new or used car, truck, motor home, RV, trailer, boat or water craft, and it is not properly repaired within a reasonable number of attempts, the warrantor is required to give you your money back and pay off your loan or, in some situations, replace the product. Below you will find a quick reference guide.

The Song-Beverly Consumer Warranty Act

The official title of California’s Lemon Law is The Song-Beverly Consumer Warranty Act. The Act can be located in the California Civil Code beginning at Section 1790.

How do you know if your Car, Truck, Motorcycle, RV or Trailer is a lemon?

Well, the best way to find out is to call us Toll Free at 1-877-348-1152.

The general requirements are as follows:

  1. You must have a written warranty. If you do not have a written warranty, the law will not apply — however other consumer protection laws may apply to protect you. Your written warranty can be from the manufacturer (or even from a dealer on a used car). Beware: Although there are people and websites out there that will tell you that the California Lemon Law only applies to the first 18 months or 18,000 miles of a vehicle’s life – that is simply not true! It protects you for the length of the vehicle’s warranty – and beyond, if the problems occurred while under warranty.
  2. Normally, you must have purchased your vehicle for what is termed: “personal, family, or household purposes.” However, many commercial vehicles used in small businesses will also fall under the umbrella. (Call us Toll Free at 1-877-348-1152 if you have a commercial car or truck and want to find out if the lemon law applies to you.)
  3. You need to allow the manufacturer (or the manufacturer’s representatives – which are normally the dealerships) a “reasonable number” of attempts to fix the problem(s) with your vehicle. (What is a reasonable number of attempts you ask? Well, that depends on the vehicle’s problems or defects. For example, if the problem is related to the safety of the occupants (like your brakes or the air-bags for instance) then fewer attempts will be required than if the problem is related to a non-safety “pulling” problem. The number of days your car, truck or motor home was in the shop for warranty repairs can also have an impact on the reasonable number of repair attempts. For example, if your car or truck was out of service by reason of warranty repairs for a total of 30 days within the first 18 months or 18,000 miles – whichever comes first – you get the benefit of what’s called a “presumption” that your vehicle is a “lemon.”
  4. The problem(s) you are experiencing with your car or truck, must substantially impair its use, value or safety. In most cases you’ll know, but don’t guess about the impact of the problem, you may guess wrong. Call our law firm (toll-free 877-348-1152) and discuss with us any concerns you may be having with your vehicle, at no charge. We can help you judge whether or not you have a lemon on your hands. You can also click here to fill out a free Case Evaluation Form. Although each case is different and complexities can arise, those are the essential elements of the lemon law in California.

Frequently Asked Questions

Normally, in a lemon repurchase you are entitled to a refund of your down payment; all the monthly finance payments you’ve made; the payoff of the balance of your car loan; and your current registration. You may also recover what are termed related “incidental” and “consequential” damages, such as sales tax, license fees, tire fee, official fees, towing costs, rental cars, and unreimbursed repairs.
Yes, under the law provisions, the warrantor is charged with responsibility of paying reasonable attorney’s fees and costs when you have been sold a lemon and the warrantor has not fulfilled its buy-back obligations.
Yes, but motorcycles are special situations and have special rules. Call us toll free 877-348-1152 to discuss or click here.
Yes, but motor homes, trailers and RV’s are special situations and have special rules. Call us toll free 877-348-1152 to discuss or click here.
Yes, but boats, yachts and recreational water craft are special situations and have special rules. Call us toll free 877-348-1152 to discuss or click here.

california lemon law attorney

Lemon Law Hints

Always get (and keep) a copy of the Repair Orders (stating what the problems are – “complaints”) when you drop off your car.

Always make sure the dealership writes down on the Repair Order every problem you are experiencing when you drop off your car. If they won’t do it, write it down yourself before you sign.

Always keep a copy of the Repair Invoice when you pick up your car, which states what work was done on your vehicle.

For complete advice concerning your legal rights, please call our office so we can provide you the information you need. We have helped thousands of victims of lemon laws with a 99% success rate! Contact us today for more information.

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

Want to get someone on your side who lives and breathes The California Lemon Law?

Contact the Law Offices of Douglas D. Law, Esq. today!