Do I have a Lemon?

There are a lot of Lemon Law myths out there. First, don't believe anything you hear from a dealership or manufacturer. They will do everything to not have to buy back your car and hope that you will give up and go away. They may try to claim that 2 or 4 repair attempts within the first 18 months or 18,000 miles are required under the lemon law. But this is not true. A consumer need only prove that the manufacturer has been afforded a REASONABLE number of repair attempts DURING THE WARRANTY PERIOD (not within the first 18 months or 18,000 miles of ownership).

You may have a Lemon entitling you to a Repurchase or Replacement under the California Lemon Law, if the following apply to your situation:

  1. The motor vehicle was purchased new, and used for personal, family or household purposes; or has a gross weight under 10,000 pounds and was bought or used primarily for business purposes by an individual or business entity with five or fewer motor vehicles registered in California;

  2. The vehicle has a significant defect or nonconformity which substantially impairs the use, value or safety of the new motor vehicle to the buyer or lessee;

  3. The warrantor is unable to repair the defect or nonconformity after a reasonable number of repair attempts.

What constitutes a "reasonable number of repair attempts" depends on the nonconformity. The law presumes a reasonable number of attempts if the vehicle has been in for repair for the same nonconformity four or more times. However, if the nonconformity is safety-related (e.g., a nonconformity that could cause death or serious bodily injury) only two attempts to repair will amount to a presumption of "reasonableness." The law also presumes a "reasonable number of repair attempts" if the vehicle has been out of service for more than 30 calendar days due to warranty repairs. The more days out of service, the better the chance of establishing that the manufacturer has had a reasonable opportunity to repair the vehicle. Even if the warranty has expired, the Lemon Law may still apply so long as the vehicle is still having problems that were complained about, but never properly repaired during the warranty period.

The Lemon Law, generally, will not apply to vehicles with trivial or minor defects. Nevertheless, each case must be judged independently, taking into account the particular needs and expectations of the particular vehicle's owner/lessee.

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