As much as we try to hope for the best in life, sometimes, things just don’t go as planned. We often trust that any item we purchase will be made correctly and work the way it’s intended to. And when that doesn’t happen, it’s frustrating. Especially when the thing we purchase is a brand new car.

But vehicles are built perfectly every time, and sometimes manufacturers sell cars that have defects or don’t run properly. These issues may arise immediately, or they may take a few months for you to really notice them. And sometimes the dealership can fix the issue in no time, and you’re back to driving a new, perfect vehicle.

But other times, the problem persists, and you’re stuck with a new car that runs as if it’s seen 20 years on the road. In other words, you have a lemon. That’s where we come in.

We’ve put together this California lemon law reference guide to help you better understand the lemon law and the process for getting the compensation you deserve for a faulty car.

What is the Purpose of the New Car Lemon Law?

The California lemon law — or the Song-Beverly Consumer Warranty Act — gives protections to consumers who purchase new cars under warranty. When you purchase a car, there’s an understanding that it’ll be in good working order. And when it isn’t, the manufacturer should be held responsible.

The lemon law exists so that manufacturers are forced to either repair or replace faulty vehicles and no cost to the consumer so that you aren’t stuck paying endless repair bills on a car you thought was perfect when you drove it off the lot.

With the lemon law on your side, purchasing a lemon doesn’t have to be the end of the world. Once you know the warning signs of a lemon (detailed next in this California lemon law guide) and have an understanding of the lemon law process, you’ll be well equipped to pursue a claim for the compensation you deserve.

What are the California Lemon Law Requirements?

In order for your car to be called a lemon under the California lemon law, it has to meet a fairly strict set of requirements. Under the law, the vehicle must have a substantial defect that persists after a considerable number of repair attempts have been made. And the defect has to appear within 18 months or 18,000 miles of purchasing the car. What counts as a substantial defect or a considerable number of repair attempts will vary by state. California’s requirements are:

  • The manufacturer has made at least two repair attempts to fix a problem that could result in death or serious injury.
  • The manufacturer has made at least four repair attempts to fix the same warranty problem
  • The car has been undrivable for at least 30 days
  • Any issues are the not the result of misuse by the owner

If your car does meet any of those requirements, you could be eligible to pursue a lemon law claim. And if you win your case, you’re entitled to compensation from the manufacturer. This could be a cash payout, a buyback of your lemon car, or a replacement car that doesn’t present the same issues.

How to File a Lemon Law Claim

When you hope to bring a lemon law claim against the manufacturer, you’ll need to keep thorough documentation of every repair attempt, including the date you had work done to the car and every test and repair attempt that was done. You’ll want to contact your car’s manufacturer and inform them of the issues you’re having, though they won’t likely offer you compensation or a buyback that easily.

Chances are, you’ll have to pursue either arbitration or a full lawsuit. During arbitration, you’ll gather all the evidence and witnesses you have, and present your case in front of an arbiter or a panel. For a lawsuit, you’ll hire a lemon lawyer to present your case and represent you in court.

Manufacturers typically want you to pursue an arbitration rather than a full lawsuit. There’s no opportunity to force the manufacturer to answer questions or submit evidence under oath, and the manufacturer will likely have a dedicated specialist who has helped them win a number of lemon law arbitrations in the past. Meaning they’re much better equipped to win an arbitration than you are.

How Does the New Car Lemon Law Guide Affect the Buyer?

Now that you have a better understanding of the purpose of the new car lemon law for buyers in California, you know how to protect yourself from being taken advantage of. You know what types of problems to look for and how to gather evidence for a case. In the event that you do take home a lemon, this guide will help you know what to do next.

Give Us a Call at Shainfeld Law

If you’re hoping to pursue a lemon law case, give us a call. As your local lemon law experts, we’re here to guide you through every step of the process, from inquiring about a claim to collecting the compensation you deserve. We have plenty of resources to help you get started, from blog articles like this California lemon law guide to FAQs and even more details about the lemon law process.

If you suspect your car is a lemon, give us a call. We’ll provide you with a free consultation and, if your car does meet the above requirements, help you get started on pursuing a lemon law claim against your car’s manufacturer.

Finding yourself the owner of a lemon is frustrating — but we’re here to help you get back on the road in no time.