Got a Lemon? Understanding California’s Lemon Law

You did it – you finally bought that sporty little roadster you’ve been eyeing for months. But just a couple weeks after driving it off the lot, the check engine light comes on. Uh oh. You take it to the dealer and learn it needs a whole new transmission. Seriously? You just bought this car! Unfortunately, you’ve been handed a lemon. Don’t despair because you have options. The lemon laws in California are there to protect buyers like you. In this article, you’ll learn exactly how to work with a lemon law attorney to get the justice you deserve. With the right legal guidance, you can get your money back or swap your lemon for a working car. Read on to find out what to do next to get rid of that sour purchase!

The Legal Process for a Lemon Law Claim

If you’ve recently bought a new car in California only to have it need repair after repair, you may have a lemon on your hands. California lemon law attorney protects consumers in this situation and provides a legal means for recourse. The basics

Under the California lemon law, if your new vehicle has substantial defects that haven’t been repaired after a reasonable number of repair attempts, you have the right to a refund or replacement. To qualify, the problems need to impair the use, value or safety of the vehicle.

What Counts As A Reasonable Number Of Repair Attempts?  

Typically, either 4 repair visits for the same problem within the first 18 months or 18,000 miles or 2 repair visits within the first 24 months for a safety-related defect. The Lemon law also considers the amount of time your vehicle has been out of service for warranty repairs. Do I need a lawyer?

While you can pursue a claim yourself by contacting the manufacturer, hiring an experienced lemon law attorney is recommended. They can handle the entire legal process for you and help ensure you receive the maximum compensation allowed under California law. Many Lemon law attorneys offer free case reviews and work on a contingency basis, meaning you pay nothing upfront, and they receive payment only if you win your claim.

How Much Can I Recover? 

If your claim is successful, you are entitled to receive a refund of the purchase price of your vehicle as well as licensing and registration fees. The manufacturer will also need to pay for mileage offset to account for your usage until the buyback. In some cases, you may even recover the costs of repairs and attorney’s fees. The bottom line is California’s lemon law can provide substantial relief if you’ve been saddled with a lemon. Don’t hesitate to enforce your consumer rights.

If you’ve been saddled with a lemon, the first step is to notify the dealer in writing. Explain the issues you’re experiencing in detail and request immediate repairs under warranty. Give them a reasonable time period to fix the problems, usually around 30 days.

Gather Evidence

During this time, keep records of all repair attempts, conversations, and correspondence. Get signed and dated receipts for any work done. These documents will be crucial for building your case.

Hire an Attorney

If the dealer is unable to remedy the situation in a timely manner, it’s time to call in the pros. A lemon law attorney can walk you through your rights and options and help determine if your vehicle qualifies for replacement or repayment. They handle all the messy legal work so you can focus on more important things.

File a Claim

Once you’ve found a lawyer, they will file a claim against the vehicle manufacturer on your behalf. This typically involves notifying the manufacturer of your intent to pursue legal action under California’s Song-Beverly Consumer Warranty Act, more commonly known as the lemon law.

Case Review and Settlement

The manufacturer will review your claim and repair records. If they agree your vehicle qualifies as a lemon, they will likely offer you a settlement, including a replacement vehicle or a refund. If they deny your claim, your attorney can help build a case to present in court.


With the help of an experienced lemon law attorney, you have a good chance of getting rid of that sour ride and coming out ahead. Why live with a lemon when the law is on your side?