California Lemon Law FAQs

California Lemon Law FAQs

Your Frequently Asked Questions


What is the California Lemon Law?

CA Lemon Laws refer to statutes contained in the California Civil Code known collectively as the Song-Beverly Consumer Warranty Act (Civ. Code § 1793.22). The Tanner Consumer Protection Act is the section of the law that contains protections to vehicle owners.


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How Does the Lemon Law Work?

The protections provided to consumers by the California Lemon Laws are among the most comprehensive in the nation. If the manufacturer cannot fix your vehicle’s defect after multiple repair attempts, then you have the right to file a claim for lemon law compensation. 

Do I need to enter into arbitration with the manufacturer?

No. It’s not mandatory for you to enter into arbitration with the manufacturer. Please go to this page for more information about the arbitration process. 

What qualifies as a lemon in California?

A lemon is a motor vehicle (purchased or leased) that has material defects which affect its safety, use, or value. To qualify as lemon, the defect must persist through repeated repair attempts during the manufacturer’s warranty period. 

CA lemon law - frustrated car owner


What is the Lemon Law Presumption?

California’s lemon law presumption simply means that the court assumes your car is a lemon if any one of these scenarios occur during the first 18 months or 18,000 miles after you purchased or leased your vehicle:

  • At least 2 repair attempts were conducted on the vehicle for a safety defect that can cause serious bodily injury or death; or
  • At least 4 repair attempts were done on the vehicle for the same non-serious safety defect or issue; or
  • The vehicle is left in the repair shop for a total of 30 days or more (cumulative) for any combination of defects.

My car’s defects started more than 18 months from the date of purchase, do I still have a claim?

Yes. If the defects and repeated repairs on your purchased or leased vehicle occurred within the original warranty period, you can still file a claim for compensation. 

How do I file a lemon law claim in California?

If you’re considering filing a claim, the most prudent course of action would be to consult with an experienced lemon law attorney who can advise you about your specific case and guide you through the process. When you decide to proceed and the facts support your claim, your lawyer will file the case on your behalf as soon as all documents required as evidence are in. 

CA Lemon Law court trial


If I win my case, what kind of compensation can I expect?

If your vehicle qualifies as a lemon, there are three options which the manufacturer may offer you as compensation:

What is the Lemon Law buyback in California?

A buyback happens when the manufacturer offers (or is compelled by the court) to settle your claim by buying back your defective vehicle for the total price you paid, including down payment, monthly payments, fees, etc.

Does Lemon Law apply to used cars?

Yes, you may file a claim for compensation under CA lemon laws if the used car you purchased is still under the original manufacturer’s warranty. Make sure that the warranty is transferred to your name as the new owner when purchasing a used vehicle. 

How long does the lemon law apply in California?

California’s lemon law protects consumers for the duration of the manufacturer’s warranty after they purchase or lease a motor vehicle. But, there is actually a time limit to file a claim as the state imposes a statute of limitations on all breach of warranty claims. Once you suspect your vehicle is a lemon, you have a four year window in which to file a claim for compensation provided it meets the necessary requirements. 

Are there government agencies I can seek help from?

Yes, there are federal and California state offices, such as the California Department of Consumer Affairs and the DMV’s Division of Investigations ,that provide assistance to consumers in filing a claim, filing reports about the manufacturer or dealership, and in settling warranty disputes. Here’s a list of some government agencies in California where you can file a claim or report about your defective vehicle and service contract violations.


California Lemon Law - what makes a car a lemon


Do I need a lemon law attorney to pursue a claim?

Yes. The interpretation of the law gets nuanced and complicated when applied to individual situations. You’re putting yourself at a severe disadvantage if you choose to represent yourself and argue against seasoned corporate attorneys before a court of law. 

Who pays my attorney’s fees?

Most California Lemon Law attorneys work on a no win-no fee basis. This means that they don’t get a dime unless they win your case. The auto manufacturer is responsible for your attorney’s fees and any court costs. In the event of a successful case, fees are paid by the manufacturer. In unsuccessful cases, attorney’s fees are paid out of pocket by the attorney.


Talk to a California Lemon Law Attorney today to start your claim.
We offer a FREE no-obligations consultation.
Book a call or dial (323) 553-7525 right now to find out if you have a case.


Do you have a proven process to file a lemon law claim for your clients in California?

The 4-step process to file a Lemon Law claim we find most effective in winning hundreds of warranty breach cases on behalf of our clients is simple: 

  • We start with an initial no-obligations consultation where we gather all the facts and information about your specific case and determine if we can take on your case.  
  • We then gather all documents required as evidence and complete the retainer agreement.
  • We file your case as soon as all the documents are in. 
  • Depending on the manufacturer’s response, we either negotiate on your behalf to obtain maximum compensation or aggressively litigate your case to win favorable judgment from the court.

Frustrated with the constant repairs on your vehicle? Getting the runaround from the dealership or the manufacturer? Unsure how to proceed? Call us at (323) 553-7525 today for a free, no-obligations consultation to discuss your options.