How to File Lemon Law in California


The California Lemon Law, also known as the Song-Beverly Consumer Warranty Act, protects consumers who purchase or lease new vehicles that fail to meet quality and performance standards. Below is a comprehensive guide on how to file a Lemon Law claim in California.

Understanding the California Lemon Law

The California Lemon Law applies to new vehicles, including cars, trucks, SUVs, motorcycles, and certain used vehicles that are still under the manufacturer’s warranty. To qualify as a lemon under California law, the vehicle must have a significant defect that affects its use, value, or safety. Moreover, the manufacturer or its authorized dealer must have made multiple attempts to repair the defect without success.

Steps to File a Lemon Law Claim in California

  1. Record the Defect and Repair Efforts.

The first step is ensuring you have thorough documentation of your vehicle’s defects, and all repair attempts are made. Keep detailed records of:

  • Characteristics of the defect.
  • Time and date of each try to repair.
  • Detailed information about the repairs carried out.
  • Repair receipts and invoices from the repair shop.
  • Any correspondence with the dealer or the manufacturer concerning the defect.

This documentation will be vital in showing that the manufacturer has made a reasonable number of unsuccessful attempts to correct the defect.

  1. Know your Lemon Law Requirements.

To qualify for a Lemon Law claim in California, your vehicle must meet the following criteria:

  • The defect must significantly affect the vehicle’s functionality, market value, or security.
  • This means that the defect must occur within 18 months of the vehicle delivery or 18000 miles on the odometer, whichever is an earlier occurrence.
  • The manufacturer or its authorized dealer must have been given a reasonable number of attempts to repair the defect. Generally, this means:
  • Two unsuccessful efforts to correct a significant safety problem.
  • A minimum of four efforts to fix a lesser damage.
  • The vehicle has not been in operation for repair for over thirty days, and it is not necessarily continuous.
  1. Notify the Manufacturer

Certain conditions must be met before filing a Lemon Law claim: You must inform the manufacturer of the persisting defect. This notification is typically done in writing and should include:

  • A letter with your name and contact information.
  • Vehicle identification number (VIN): A distinctive number assigned to each vehicle.
  • A brief written outline of the defect is needed.
  • What were the prior repair attempts made
  • A demand for a refund or a replacement car.

Make two copies of this notification and send it through certified mail with the request for a return receipt.

  1. Request a Replacement or Refund

When the manufacturer fails to respond to your notification within the stipulated time, you may file a formal complaint requesting to be issued with a replacement car, or you will be refunded the payments. Under the California Lemon Law, you are entitled to:

  • A similar make and model of the replacement car equivalent.
  • Return of the purchase price together with the taxes, registration fees, and similar expenses. The manufacturer may charge the car user a certain number of miles driven before the first repair attempt.

Hiring a Lemon Law Attorney

Seeking the services of a Lemon Law attorney may increase the likelihood of having your claim succeed. A seasoned lawyer will assess the viability of the claim, identify and collect relevant evidence, and coordinate communication with the manufacturer. They can fight your corner in arbitration or court to ensure you get the total compensation you are entitled to. Each Lemon Law attorney charges a contingency fee, so you don’t have to pay until you win your case. Furthermore, under the California Lemon Law, the manufacturer must compensate you for the attorney’s fees charged in the case if you win, so seeking professional legal representation is a financially reasonable choice for consumers facing faulty cars.

If you want to file a Lemon Law claim in California, there are a few things that you need to do, from recording the defect and repair attempts to possibly suing the car manufacturer. Knowing the rights and timeline for Lemon Law, providing notice to the manufacturer, going through arbitration, and potentially taking the matter to court are all involved. It is possible to deal with a claim on one’s own but it is worth hiring a Lemon Law attorney who has been doing the job for long. If you follow these steps and are well-prepared, you should be able to successfully maneuver through the Lemon Law system and obtain a successful outcome so that you receive compensation for your defective automobile.

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