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The California Lemon Law – How It Works

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If your vehicle has mechanical issues or a design flaw that the dealer or manufacturer can’t repair, then California’s lemon law may qualify your vehicle for a refund or replacement. Luckily, California has some of the toughest laws protecting buyers from getting stuck with a vehicle or product whose defect substantially affects your vehicle’s use, value, or safety.

There are numerous protections under the California Lemon Law for the following types of vehicles:

  • Cars
  • Trucks
  • Sport Utility Vehicles (SUV)
  • Motorhome or Recreational Vehicles (RV)
  • Boats and other Watercraft
  • Motorcycles

Your vehicle’s sales or lease contract is an important document to have, but pay attention to your vehicle’s warranty. When you buy or lease a new vehicle, the manufacturer or dealership provides you with the warranty in your purchase or lease documents. If your vehicle is used or Certified Pre-Owned, you will find the warranty information in the Buyer’s Guide, as required by the Federal Trade Commission’s (FTC) Used Car Rule. This guide will help you determine if your vehicle was sold “as-is”, meaning any repairs on the vehicle is your sole responsibility. However, “as-is” basis does not apply if any warranties are provided, including any 5 to 30-day warranties, or mileage warranties.

If you think you have a lemon vehicle and want to learn more about your numerous rights under the California Lemon Law, give us a call today at 888-536-6628 for your free consultation with one of our experienced lawyers or See If Your Vehicle Qualifies under the lemon law with this quick and easy Free Vehicle Check form.

To help you understand your consumer rights, below is an explanation of the several layers of protection you have, from the state to federal level.

The Four Layers of Lemon Law

California Lemon Law (Song-Beverly Act)

California has some of the best laws in the nation that protect consumers who get stuck with a defective or malfunctioning vehicle. Under the California Lemon Law, neither the Implied Warranty of Merchantability, nor the Implied Warranty of Fitness for a Particular Purpose will be waived. This law also states that the manufacturer must maintain sufficient service and repair facilities in a reasonably close radius to all locations where their vehicles are sold.

Tanner Consumer Protection Act

The additional layer of protection for consumers in California falls within the Song-Beverly Act: The Tanner Consumer Protection Act. This law is also known as Presumption - a special circumstance within the wider scope of California’s Lemon Law protection that states: If the vehicle’s defects came to light within the first 18 months or 18,000 miles (whichever came first), and the consumer made numerous repair attempts that did not resolve the defect, then presumption comes into play. In Lemon Law, presumption means that the dealer or manufacturer, not the consumer, must prove that the vehicle is not, in fact, a lemon. Additional provisions include:

  • The nonconformity or malfunction may result in death or serious bodily injury to consumer.
  • Buyer or lessee has at least once directly notified the manufacturer of the need for repair(s).
  • The same defect has been subject to repair 4 or more times by manufacturer or dealer.
  • The vehicle has been out of service for repair for a cumulative total of thirty (30) days.

Federal Lemon Law (Magnuson-Moss Warranty Act)

When you are buying or leasing a vehicle, you want a guarantee of quality and performance. This law protects you at the federal level from buying goods without a guarantee of the aforementioned. There are three rules that manufacturers must abide by:

  • The Disclosure Rule: the warranty must state specific terms and conditions, duration, exclusions, limitations and disclosure of actions that may void the manufacturer’s warranty.
  • The Pre-Sale Availability Rule: the warranty must be available for review before purchase and the warranty must be presented to you in a clear and easy-to-read document.
  • The Dispute Resolution Rule: manufacturers may include a provision in their warranty that require you to try resolving disputes by informal resolution before you decide to file a lawsuit.

Uniform Commercial Code (UCC)

This code states that any seller of goods is bound by the Implied Warranty of Merchantability specifying that goods are of reasonable quality, same or similar quality as other goods of the same type, and that they conform to any descriptions made by the seller and that goods are fit for ordinary use. You are protected if the seller knows you have a specific use for certain goods, also known as the Implied Warranty of Fitness for a Particular Purpose.

The major misconception is that consumers who don't meet Presumption guidelines will not be protected under the Lemon Law. Don’t worry - due to the complexities of each vehicle’s defect or malfunction, you may still have a case under California Lemon Law, Federal Lemon Law, or UCC

Seeking help from an experienced firm of attorneys will help you get the successful outcome you are entitled to. We are confident we can help you use your rights against big manufacturers and win your case. Most importantly, under California Lemon Law, your attorney’s fees and other applicable costs are the responsibility of the manufacturer or dealer.

Our team of dedicated attorneys and in-house auto specialists have over 20 years of experience handling thousands of Lemon Law cases throughout California, with a success rate of over 99%. We have seen it all – from the most common to the most complex Lemon Law cases – and we are ready to help you. We offer you a FREE consultation and we will help you determine the nature of your case in just minutes. Call us today at 888-536-6628 for a fast, easy, and stress-free consultation. We are ready to help you!

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Our automobile Lemon Law Attorneys services to all Los Angeles County residents. We welcome inquiries from Los Angeles, Long Beach, Pasadena, San Fernando, Valencia, and all of greater Los Angeles. Our Los Angeles satellite office is available by appointment as litigation matters may warrant, including attorney-client meetings, depositions, and mediations. Our office is centrally located in downtown Los Angeles, and serves all of Los Angeles County including North County, East County, the South Bay, and Los Angeles County's rural communities.