Time Limit To File A Lemon Law Claim in California

California lemon law time limit

Is There a Time Limit To File a Lemon Law Claim in California?

The California Lemon Law, formally known as the Song-Beverly Consumer Warranty Act, protects consumers from unwittingly buying or leasing defective vehicles. This law serves as the framework for consumers to seek remedy when the defects on their vehicle significantly affect its use, value, or safety. Under the law, if a car qualifies as a “lemon,” consumers may get settlements like a buyback refund, vehicle replacement, or cash compensation.

Consumers need to be aware, however, that there’s a time limit for filing a lemon law claim in California. Knowing this limit is vital to safeguard your rights as a consumer as it directly affects your chance to get compensation for faulty vehicles. Missing the deadline might mean losing the right to seek any legal remedy and getting stuck with the faulty vehicle.

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Lemon Law Statute of Limitations in California

The Statute of Limitations sets a four-year absolute deadline for filing a Lemon Law claim, similar to other California warranty or breach of sales contract claims. This timeframe is a strict limit. This means that if you missed the deadline, you’re automatically barred from pursuing a lemon law claim under California law.

The exact claims statute of limitations are outlined in the California Commercial Code section 2725, subdivisions (1) and (2):

“An action for breach of any contract for sale must be commenced within four years after the cause of action has been accrued . . . A cause of action accrues when the breach occurs, regardless of the aggrieved party’s lack of knowledge of the breach. A breach of warranty occurs when tender of delivery is made, except that where the warranty explicitly extends to the future performance of the goods and discovery of the breach must await the time of such performance the cause of action accrues when the breach is or should have been discovered.”

The clock for filing a Lemon Law claim in California starts ticking from the date the vehicle is officially deemed a lemon, usually determined as the first repair visit for a significant defect that the manufacturer couldn’t fix. The other important qualifier is that this date falls within the vehicle’s warranty period.

The consumer has a four-year window from the date of “discovering” the unfixable defect to file a claim. Missing this deadline means forfeiting the right to seek a remedy under the California Lemon Law. As it is, the importance of timely action for consumers facing persistent vehicle issues can not be overemphasized.

Common Mistakes to Avoid

Inadequate Documentation

A frequent misstep of owners dealing with a faulty vehicle is not documenting the repairs adequately.

It’s crucial that you keep detailed records of all repair visits with a timeline. This comprehensive documentation is vital evidence when filing a claim, showing efforts to fix the vehicle’s persistent defects. Without thorough records, proving the case becomes difficult, potentially jeopardizing your chances of a successful outcome.

The most effective strategy for consumers to avoid missing the claim deadline is to promptly return their vehicle to the dealership at the first sign of trouble. Properly documenting each visit is important, as repair documents serve as primary evidence in a Lemon Law claim. Swiftly addressing issues and keeping detailed repair records of repair attempts enhances your position and boosts your chance of a successful resolution.

Delayed Legal Representation

One common error made by consumers when dealing with a defective vehicle is the failure to seek advice from a lemon law attorney early on. Engaging an attorney as soon as possible is imperative. They can provide guidance throughout the process and furnish legal representation to safeguard your rights. An attorney’s early involvement in the process can significantly strengthen your case.

Manufacturers often exploit the statute of limitations to challenge lemon law claims. Identifying the exact date when a major defect was discovered can be a nuanced and intricate process, especially considering factors like parts shortages or technician refusals. To navigate the complexities of this matter, seeking guidance from an experienced attorney is always the best option.

No Win – No Fee

If you’re hesitant to consult a lawyer due to potential legal costs, there’s no need for concern. The California Lemon Law explicitly requires auto manufacturers to cover attorney and legal fees. Attorneys in the state work on a no-win-no-fee basis, with fees contingent on winning the case. This ensures consumers pursuing a fair resolution under the Lemon Law don’t have to worry about incurring any upfront legal costs.


In summary, it’s important to understand the significance of the four-year deadline for filing a California Lemon Law claim.

Missing this deadline may lead to forfeiting your right to seek legal remedies. Acting early by promptly bringing the vehicle to the dealership for repairs at the first sign of trouble and meticulously documenting each visit is essential.

By following these steps, the chances of success in a Lemon Law claim significantly increase. Taking timely action, maintaining thorough documentation, and securing legal representation form a solid approach to getting your lemon problem resolved. If you suspect that your car may be a lemon, consult with a lemon law attorney as early as possible to make certain that you have a valid claim. Remember, the law is on your side and you don’t need to get stuck with a lemon!

Talk to a California Lemon Law Attorney today to start your claim.
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