Motor Vehicle Warranty And The California Lemon Law – FAQs

In California, a purchaser or lessee of a new motor vehicle has various rights under both state and federal law, if the vehicle does not perform as promised in an express warranty.
The Song-Beverly Consumer Warranty Act can protect both the new and used car consumers. The Song-Beverly Consumer Warranty Act is also known as the “California lemon law“.

A lemon is a defective car that is found to have numerous or severe defects not readily apparent before its purchase. Any vehicle with these issues can be termed a ‘lemon,’ and any product which has major flaws that render it unfit for its purpose can be described as a ‘lemon‘.

Following are some of the frequently asked questions discussed about the California lemon law. If you think that you have landed a defective vehicle in California, you may find quick answers as to how you can take advantage of the California lemon law.

How does the California lemon law protect defective car owners in California?

The California lemon law protects both the new and used car consumers if they do not conform to the manufacturer’s written express warranty

  • The Song-Beverly Consumer Warranty Act (beginning with Civil Code section 1790) provides protection for consumers who lease or buy new motor vehicles

What is the protection afforded to me for my lemon buy, by the California lemon law?

The California lemon law states that the manufacturer is required promptly to replace the vehicle or refund the purchase price to you, if you are a lessee or buyer:

  • If the manufacturer or its representative in California, such as an authorized dealer, is unable to service or repair a new motor vehicle to meet the terms of an express written warranty after a reasonable number of repair attempts

What does the refund include under the California lemon law?

According to the California lemon law the refund:

  • Includes the price paid for manufacturer-installed items and transportation
  • Does not include the price paid for non-manufacturer items installed by the dealer

Do I have a say in choosing a replacement for my lemon buy under the California lemon law?

According to the California lemon law as a lessee or buyer, you are completely free to choose whether to accept a replacement or a refund for your lemon buy.

Am I entitled to any other monetary protection for my lemon buy, under the California lemon law?

According to the California lemon law, be it a replacement or a refund of the lemon buy the manufacturer pays the expenses incurred by you, as the following:

  • Sales or use tax
  • License, registration and other official fees
  • Incidental damages you have incurred such as finance charges, repair, towing and rental car costs

Do I pay for the use of my lemon car, under the California lemon law?

  • According to the California lemon law, as a lessee or buyer:
  • You may be charged for the use of the vehicle while the vehicle is replaced or refunded
  • Charges for the use is determined by multiplying the actual price of the new vehicle by a factor that includes the number
    of miles traveled by the vehicle before it was first brought in for correction of the problem
  • For example, if your lemon car had traveled 6,000 miles before it was first brought in for correction of the problem, you
    as a lessee or buyer could be charged 5% (6,000/120,000 = 5%) of the purchase price for usage

How long does the California lemon law apply to my new lemon vehicle?

The California lemon law applies for the entire period of your warranty on your lemon vehicle:

  • If your vehicle is covered by a three-year warranty and you discover a defect after two years, the manufacturer will have to replace the vehicle or reimburse you as outlined above
  • If the manufacturer or its representative is unable to conform the vehicle to its express warranty, after a reasonable number of repair attempts to fix the safety issues during the entire period of its warranty

When is the California lemon law NOT applicable to my new lemon vehicle?

The California lemon law/Song-Beverly does not apply if the problem was caused by abuse after the vehicle was delivered to you.

Follow the terms of the warranty for maintenance and proper use of your vehicle.

What is the statute of limitations for my lemon buy, under the California lemon law?

According to the California lemon law, there is a four-year statute of limitations to bring a law suit for breach of warranty or for violations of the Song-Beverly Consumer Warranty Act.

To get the best advantage through the California lemon law, you should act promptly and try to resolve the problem fairly and quickly.

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