Types of Vehicles and Defects Covered by the Lemon Law – LIFESTYLE BY PS icon

Types of Vehicles and Defects Covered by the Lemon Law


Car problems are not something anyone likes to have to deal with, especially if they keep recurring and don't get fixed. Many states have "lemon laws", which are laws that protect motorists from paying for seemingly endless repairs.

Not all states have in-depth lemon laws, and some protect consumers more extensively than others - such as the lemon laws in California. California lemon law attorneys can help you find out if the state's lemon law covers your vehicle.

Vehicles Covered by the Lemon Law

Consumers ask the California lemon law primary question on a daily basis: "Does your vehicle qualify for a buyback under California lemon law?"

This question is both a broad and good question. We will try to answer it here. All the answers are based on the vehicle being covered under a warranty from the manufacturer. These warranties could include a "CPO", new car warranty, or "power-train" warranty. These are FACTORY warranties.

NOTE: Some dealers offer extended warranties to consumers as part of their purchase agreements. These warranties are not valid in California and do not count towards repairs under the state's lemon law.

California lemon law information. The California lemon law is applicable:

  • IF the vehicle has been subject to an unreasonable number of repair attempts at the authorized warrantor dealer for the same issue/complaint/system. This applies to used vehicles that are covered by the manufacturer's bumper-to-bumper warranty or extended "power train warranty", or CPO (Certified pre-Owned).
  • If the vehicle has been in the authorized warranty shop for more than 30 days, it will be considered a loss of warranty parts.
  • If the vehicle has been in the shop for over 30 days, it is considered a major issue. This only applies if the vehicle has been there for at least 18 months (18,000 miles) since the original vehicle delivery.
  • If the vehicle's history shows that the manufacturer (factory), is currently working on a fix/update/software upgrade/solution but doesn't have one yet.
  • If warranty parts are out of stock, it will take up to 30 days for them to be repaired.
  • If the vehicle is at an authorized warrantor’s dealer, the dealer is notifying the customer that the factory FSE (Field Services Engineer) is on the way to assist the warrantor’s shop. This is due to their inability to diagnose or effect repairs.
  • If the vehicle has been subject to multiple exterior sheet metal panel paint repaints (hood and trunk, doors, fenders, bumpers, etc.), Because of faulty factory paint. (Repeated trips to dealer)
  • If the vehicle has been through multiple repairs with "no problem found"/"operating as intended"/"operating the same as another similar vehicle", etc., the consumer can easily demonstrate the problem and capture it on video.
  • If the vehicle was not disclosed that it was a former rental vehicle, frame/salvage title or flood title,
  • If the vehicle has had 2 or more factory warranty repairs (documented), the customer's complaint would be considered a defect that, if not addressed under warranty, could lead to serious injury or even death.

California Lemon Law is Based on a Written Warranty

California's lemon law is based on the presumption and requirement that a written warranty exists, and that "repair attempts" are made while such warranty is in effect. Automobile manufacturers offer a variety of limited warranties.

New vehicles have "bumper-to-bumper" warranties, as well as longer-term "powertrain" warranties (covers the engine/transmission/final drive). Some car manufacturers offer "diesel engine warranties" which can extend up to 100,000 miles. There is another warranty that an automobile manufacturer offers for used vehicles. These are called "Certified Preowned" or "CPO". Just like a new vehicle, the manufacturer of the automobile provides used vehicle warranty coverage that is backed by the factory.

California's lemon law offers a remedy to purchasers and lessees for cars, trucks and motor-driven vehicles less than 10,000 GVW. It allows for compensation for vehicles that are repeatedly not repaired by the manufacturer's authorized warrantor for defects that "substantially impair their use, value, or safety".

These vehicles are known as "lemons". California’s lemon law (the Song-Beverly Consumer Act) protects both lessees and purchasers. Any vehicle that is covered by a warranty is covered under the California lemon law. California lemon law provides consumers with rights that may go beyond the warranty terms in purchase contracts.

California Lemon Law Consumer Remedies

California's lemon law provides consumers with a variety of remedies. One remedy is called a "Repurchase". The automobile manufacturer then buys back the vehicle and returns all money paid to it. Any outstanding lease or loan balances are also paid by the automobile manufacturer.

The state statutes provide the guidelines for how to calculate a statutory usage fee. The "repurchase" or buyback is completed when the consumer returns the vehicle to the manufacturer's transfer agent.

California's lemon law provides a second remedy: "Vehicle Replacement." This is a common "substitution of collateral" in a loan/lease. California law requires that both the manufacturer and consumer of an automobile agree to replace it. If one party is not in agreement, the other can resolve it. Vehicle replacement is only available for vehicles purchased new or leased.

California Lemon Law Cases: The Attorney's Role

California's lemon law requires almost always that "legal force" be used to enforce it. An attorney is needed to represent the consumer in a lemon law case. California is considered a fee shifting state. The consumer is not responsible for attorney fees and expenses incurred in pursuing legal proceedings with the manufacturer.

Seasoned California lemon law attorneys are often forced to file a lawsuit (lawsuit) by the manufacturer if they insist that the vehicle is not eligible.