Hidden Lemon Law Rights: What Most California Consumers Don’t Know

The Song-Beverly Consumer Warranty Act protects Californians in a wide variety of consumer transactions, including the purchase or lease of defective vehicles.

The California Lemon Law says a motor vehicle’s manufacturer must replace or buy back a vehicle if the owner or lessee has been unable to have problems that are covered under warranty repaired in a reasonable number of attempts. Many Californians are unaware of the full scope of their rights under the Lemon Law.

The Barry Law Firm of Los Angeles, CA, has helped many California residents get rid of defective vehicles and recover their losses through the California Lemon Law. In this blog post, we would like to explain some of the hidden Lemon Law rights Californians enjoy. If you are experiencing automobile problems that began under warranty and that the dealership has been unable to repair, then contact us for a free consultation with an experienced Lemon Law attorney.

Basic Protections Under California’s Lemon Law

You may be familiar with the core provisions of the Lemon Law and the requirements for a claim. Essentially, if a reasonable number of repair attempts have not resolved a substantial defect covered by the manufacturer’s warranty, the car or truck is a “lemon.” The owner or lessee can file a claim to demand that the manufacturer replace the vehicle or buy it back.

A reasonable number of repairs can vary from case to case. If the defect poses a significant danger, under California Lemon Law, two or more attempts to fix the problem are typically considered reasonable.

If the problem is less severe, manufacturers may be entitled to more than two attempts to repair the problem. In certain circumstances, if your vehicle is in the shop for an inordinate amount of time your vehicle may automatically qualify as a lemon.

But the law’s concept of “substantial defect” goes beyond just the number of repair attempts. A substantial defect is one that impairs the use, value, or safety of the vehicle. The manufacturer’s warranty must also cover it.

A substantial defect would typically be one that impairs the vehicle’s: 

  • Engine
  • Fuel system
  • Transmission
  • Drivetrains
  • Steering mechanisms
  • Brakes
  • Suspension
  • Electrical systems, including lights, instrument panels, power windows, power door locks
  • Air conditioning and heating
  • Seat belts and airbags
  • And other parts and systems.

Just about any unresolved problem will impact the value of your vehicle. If it’s a manufacturer’s defect — not a result of normal wear and tear or misuse — and you haven’t been able to have it repaired, you should discuss the issue with a California Lemon Law attorney.

Beyond New Cars: Used Vehicles and Leases

Many unhappy car buyers think the California Lemon Law only applies to a newly purchased vehicle. This is a mistake.

The key to whether the Lemon Law applies to your car problems is whether they are covered by the manufacturer’s warranty. If the issues you are dealing with first developed within the manufacturer’s original warranty period and you tried to get the car dealer to repair them before the warranty expired, the unresolved problem may qualify the vehicle as a lemon.

If you have purchased a used car that is still covered by the manufacturer’s warranty and an unrepairable defect has arisen, a Lemon Law lawyer can help you understand whether you are eligible to pursue a Lemon Law claim.

The California Lemon Law covers leased cars, too. Most leased cars are under warranty for the duration of the lease.

A manufacturer’s warranty, or factory warranty, covers mechanical failures that occur during normal vehicle use or due to flaws in workmanship. Specific terms vary from one car manufacturer to another.

Benefits Beyond Replacement or Refund

The primary benefit of a successful Lemon Law claim is that the manufacturer either buys your vehicle back or provides a replacement.

A car owner or lessee who chooses a buyback is refunded the downpayment and monthly payments they’ve made to purchase the vehicle plus the remaining balance of the vehicle’s full cost, including any charges for transportation.

If a car owner or lessee chooses a replacement vehicle, it must be substantially equivalent to the previous vehicle at the time of purchase or lease.

In each case, the consumer, whether they are buying or leasing, also receives a refund of their:

  • Collateral charges, such as sales or use tax, license fees, registration fees, and other official fees
  • Incidental costs, including reasonable repair, towing, and rental car costs actually incurred by the buyer or lessee
  • Attorney’s fees.

The manufacturer is allowed to deduct a “mileage offset” or “usage fee” from the buyback payment. This is based on the miles driven before the first attempt to have an unrepaired problem corrected.

How To Utilize Your Hidden Lemon Law Rights

If you suspect your vehicle qualifies as a lemon under California law, you should gather existing records of your attempts to repair the vehicle and any correspondence with the car dealership. You should also assemble any documentation available of your out-of-pocket costs such as rental cars or towing.

Documentation will be key to your Lemon Law claim.

To prove that a vehicle qualifies as a lemon, the car owner must present records of their attempts to have the manufacturer repair an issue that developed under warranty.

You will benefit from having the guidance of a specialized Lemon Law attorney. The Barry Law Firm can file a Lemon Law lawsuit on your behalf and stand up to the car manufacturer’s legal team. A qualified California Lemon Law attorney can help you navigate the legal process and demand full compensation.

Contact Us Today For Your Free Consultation

If you are dealing with a faulty motor vehicle The Barry Law Firm’s Lemon Law attorneys in Los Angeles, California, are here for you. Our experienced Lemon Law attorneys have helped many frustrated consumers in California without charging them a penny for our services. California law requires the manufacturer to pay our attorney’s fees in a successful Lemon Law claim.

Phone 877- LEMON-03 or reach out online now for a free consultation about how The Barry Law Firm can help you.




The Barry Law Firm

11845 W Olympic Blvd Suite 1270

Los Angeles, California 90064

Phone: 310-684-5859

Free Consultation: 877-536-6603