Lemon Law

What Qualifies as a Lemon?

The California Lemon Law (Song-Beverly Consumer Warranty Act) provides important protections to buyers and lessees of new and used cars, trucks, motorcycles, boats, motorhomes, trailers, ATVs, and other products.

You may be entitled to refund for a defective vehicle under the following conditions:

  • Purchased from a dealer (not a private party);
  • Written warranty included;
  • Presented for repair under warranty a "reasonable number" of times;
  • Vehicle is still defective; and
  • The defect or defects "substantially impair" the vehicle's use, value, or safety.

What number of repairs is "reasonable?"  What sorts of defects are "substantial?"  Under the law, these terms are "incapable of precise definition."  [Lundy v. Ford Motor Co. (2001) 87 Cal.App.4th 472, 478.]

Whether the lemon law will apply depends on the particular circumstances of each vehicle and its repair history.  Only an experienced lemon law specialist can provide a reliable evaluation and determine the best course of action for each unique situation.  Attorney Thomas Solmer has helped hundreds of consumers like you to receive refunds or other compensation for defective vehicles.

Your Right to Refund

When a vehicle is repurchased under the lemon law, the manufacturer (or dealer) must:

  • Refund the down payment and all monthly payments made, less an offset for miles driven prior to the first attempt to repair the vehicle;
  • Reimburse the consumer for all out-of-pocket costs of repairs, rental cars, towing, and any other expenses incurred because of the defects in the vehicle;
  • Pay off the balance of any financing on the vehicle, or for leased vehicles, buy out the lease;
  • Pay the consumer's attorney fees and other costs of litigation; and
  • If the vehicle is to be re-sold, brand the title as a Lemon Law Buyback to give notice of the defect or defects to all subsequent purchasers.

If a repurchase demand is refused and the claim has to be litigated, the law provides for an additional civil penalty of up to twice the amount of actual damages.

Implied Warranty of Merchantability

In addition to your rights under any written warranty, the law provides an "implied warranty" that any vehicle will be in a safe condition and substantially free of defects.

Under the implied warranty, if a new vehicle has a fundamental defect within the first year of ownership, such as a blown engine or failed transmission, it can be returned for refund without any repair attempts at all.

For used vehicles, the implied warranty lasts for up to three months.

Vehicles sold "as is" or "with all faults" do not have an implied warranty.

Find Out More

If you're concerned about a problem with your vehicle, call us to speak with an attorney before you bring it in for repair.  Knowing your rights is the first step.  There is no charge for an initial case evaluation, and no obligation.

Call for a free consultation

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