California lemon law – and lemon law in general – is primarily tied to defective cars. While cars are the most common items for which lemon claims are filed, the law is much broader. CA lemon law is part of the Song-Beverly Consumer Warranty Act – which can be applied to a wide range of consumer products.
As long as the defective product is sold with a manufacturer warranty (and meets the requirements of a lemon), you can seek compensation with a California lemon law lawyer.
But are all defective products lemons?
What Are the Requirements of California Lemon Law?
A defective product must go through a process to be ruled a “lemon” – no matter which state you are in. In California, the requirements are:
- The product has one or more defects that impair its functionality, safety, or value.
- The manufacturer must be given a reasonable number of repair attempts (at least two) to fix the defective product, which is covered under the warranty.
- The product has been out of service for more than 30 total days for repairs.
- The defect was not caused by consumer abuse.
If your defective product meets the criteria above, your options are to a) request a buyback (refund) from the manufacturer or b) request a replacement of the product.
Vehicles Covered Under California Lemon Law
Vehicles are most commonly associated with lemon law due to their high price tag and warranty terms.
California lemon law covers a range of vehicles – purchased or leased. Unlike most other states, CA law also applies to used vehicles purchased with a dealer warranty. The law can be applied to more than just cars. The list includes:
- Recreational Vehicles
Regardless of the vehicle, the most important thing you need to know in the California lemon law process is the terms of your warranty. Generally, warranties for new vehicles last for three years after purchase date or before 36,000 miles accrue on the odometer. These numbers vary based on the manufacturer.
Here is a table of the major automakers’ warranty terms.
Now, if you’ve read up on California lemon law, you may have seen that consumers can ONLY seek benefits within 18 months after purchase or before 18,000 miles accrue. This is not true. You can file a lemon law California claim as long as the defect was first reported within the terms of the manufacturer warranty.
The 18 months/18K miles refers to California lemon law presumption. This just means your case will be much stronger if your vehicle meets the criteria within those limits.
What About Business Vehicles?
Looking at the fine print, it appears that lemon law only applies to vehicles “bought or used primarily for personal, family, or household purposes” – per Civil Code Section 1793.22.
Lemon law in California also applies to vehicles purchased or leased for business purposes. However, there are some stipulations.
1. The gross weight of the vehicle must be under 10,000 lbs.
2. The business can have no more than five vehicles registered in its name.
These rules only apply to business vehicles registered in the State of California. For businesses that operate in multiple states, vehicles registered outside of CA would not factor into the claim.
Consumer Products Covered Under CA Lemon Law
Now to move beyond vehicles – California lemon law covers a range of consumer products. Generally, electronically operated items over $50 may be covered under lemon law in California.
Most commonly, claims are sought for high price tag items, like new appliances. This may include (but is not limited to):
To begin the repair process, there are a few items you need to check off.
For one, make sure the product has a permanently-affixed serial number. Second, check the manufacturer’s warranty and owner’s manual. There should be step-by-step instructions for communicating with the manufacturer for repairs/replacement.
What To Do If You Have a Lemon Product?
As soon as you’ve determined your vehicle – or consumer product – meets the criteria of California lemon law, your next move is to find an attorney. Now, the manufacturer will likely try to dissuade you from doing this. Manufacturers have no intention of compensating you for a faulty product.
Chances are, you’ve never had a lemon product before – and aren’t familiar with the process. Manufacturers feed on this to take advantage of consumers.
A common ploy is to tell you arbitration is a quicker, cheaper option than going to court. What they don’t tell you is it’s only cheaper for them. Arbitration is usually paid for by the manufacturer – and arbitrators may or may not be biased. Most arbitration hearings end with the consumer getting the short end of the stick with a low-ball settlement.
If your product meets the requirements of lemon law in California, cut off your communication with the manufacturer. Your California lemon law lawyer will take it from here. Your job now is to provide your attorney with as much documentation as possible to strengthen the case.
This includes (but is not limited to):
- Copy of the warranty terms.
- Records of repairs from the manufacturer (closed repair invoices)
- Receipts for the payments made on the vehicle/product.
- Official documentation of the vehicle.
- Receipts for all incidental costs associated with the lemon (towing expenses, cab fares, meals purchased, hotel stays, etc.
At this point, you and your California lemon law lawyer are a team. The attorney’s job is to get you the maximum compensation for the lemon. Yours is to provide everything they need to do this.
The Next Step
If you purchased a defective product – of which cannot be repaired – you have options under lemon law in California.
The worst thing you can do with a lemon claim is wait. Get in touch with a California lemon law firm immediately for a consultation. The attorney will determine how strong your case is and whether it’s worth pursuing – as well as the next steps.
For any questions or concerns, don’t hesitate to reach out to Cline APC and chat with a California lemon law lawyer. We’re always happy to help guide you in the right direction.Call 888-982-6915, send an email to email@example.com, or fill out a free case evaluation.