Lemon Law Frequently Asked Questions

The California Lemon Law is designed to protect consumers who have purchased or leased a vehicle that turns out to be a lemon. Many consumers who experience repeated issues often mistakenly only deal with the dealer or manufacturer and trust what they are told is true. It is in the best interest of the consumer to talk to a qualified, experienced Lemon Law attorney to understand what the law requires and their legal options.

Strategic Legal Practices offers a free consultation. If you have made a reasonable number of repair attempts under warranty for one or more problems that substantially impair your use, value and/or safety of your vehicle, then you may qualify for a refund, replacement or cash settlement under California Lemon Law. Even if you no longer own the vehicle, your Lemon Law rights remains intact.

Here are some of the most frequently asked questions we receive:

Do I need to pay any money up front to hire Strategic Legal Practices to file a lemon law claim on my behalf?

No, there are no up-front fees. Strategic Legal Practices provides their services to consumers with no out-of-pocket cost. The California Lemon Law requires the manufacturer (defendant) to pay attorney fees incurred by the consumer, along with any costs incurred in Lemon Law cases when the consumer prevails. This provision was put in place to take away the financial risk for the consumer when hiring an attorney. This makes it fairer for the consumer who may not have the financial means to hire a Lemon Law attorney.

How many repair attempts are required to file a California Lemon Law Claim?

The California Lemon Law does not specify an exact number of repair attempts. Instead, it says there must be a reasonable number of repair attempts on a vehicle, normally 2 or more. However, no case is the same and reasonable can be different in each case. A qualified Lemon Law attorney should be consulted to review the potential case.

What if the vehicle is used in a business?

The California Lemon Law applies to vehicles used for business purposes. The vehicle gross weight cannot be more than 10,000 pounds. Also, the business cannot have more than 5 vehicles registered in the business’ name.

Does the Lemon Law apply only to passenger cars?

No, the California Lemon Law applies to passenger cars, trucks, vans, SUVs, motorcycles and all consumer goods that the manufacturer’s warranty covers.

What if I bought my vehicle used?

The California Lemon Law applies to used cars if they were purchased from a dealer while covered under the manufacturer’s warranty. If you are not sure if your vehicle qualifies, check with a qualified Lemon Law attorney, like Strategic Legal Practices.

Is arbitration required to make a Lemon Law claim?

No. The California Lemon Law does not require a consumer to go to arbitration to pursue a Lemon Law case in court. While the dealer or manufacturer may tell you this, it is simply not true.

Does the California Lemon Law apply to vehicles that have higher miles or are older than 12-18 months?

Yes. If the vehicle’s issues occurred during the warranty period and has been subject to a reasonable number of repair attempts, the age of the vehicle will not typically disqualify a consumer from making a Lemon Law claim.

What if my vehicle is out of warranty?

If the vehicle was under the original manufacturer’s warranty when the repair attempts were performed or repair attempts were performed to an extended warranty, you may still be entitled to relief under the lemon law regardless of the current warranty status.

How long can the dealership keep my car for repair? I heard it was no more than 30 days?

The manufacturer and/or its authorized repair facility must complete repairs to the vehicle within 30 days (when first brought in to the dealership) unless there are circumstances that arise which are beyond their control. Failure to repair the vehicle in 30 days may constitute a violation of the California Lemon Law.

What if the automobile was bought outside of California?

The California Lemon Law is only applicable for vehicles purchased in the State of California.

The vehicle must also have been registered and repaired in the state of California under the manufacturer’s original warranty. The only exception to this rule applies to active duty military, who may still be eligible under the California Lemon Law provided you purchased the vehicle in the United States from a manufacturer that also sells vehicles in the state of California, and you are either (1) a California resident or (2) you were stationed in California when you purchased the vehicle or at the time you began your lemon law claim.

However, if you purchased your vehicle outside of California, you may still have a lemon case under federal law. Contact our office.

What is a “lemon law buyback”?

A lemon law buyback is when the manufacturer buys your car back from you. You are reimbursed for the down payment, all the monthly payments, the current year registration fee and the manufacturer pays off any outstanding loan balance. The manufacturer will take the vehicle and the title is noted as a lemon law buyback. There is money deducted for mileage offset (calculated by the mileage on the vehicle when the problem first began, divided by 120,000, and multiplied by the purchase price).