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Do I Have a Lemon Law Claim, if my Vehicle is Out of Warranty?

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Lemon Law – In order to file a successful lemon law claim in California, it is imperative that you understand how this law works and which vehicles will qualify. Lemon laws have been put into effect in order to protect consumers from detrimental vehicle sales and manufacturer practices. If you believe that you have a valid lemon case, you will want to talk with a knowledgeable attorney in your area. Filing a successful lemon law claim will hold car manufacturers responsible for passing on faulty vehicles to consumers. Over time, these claims will motivate the car industry to enforce higher standards for all consumers.

Understanding How Lemon Laws Apply to A Car Purchase

One of the things that people want to know when they are researching lemon laws in their area is whether or not their particular vehicle will qualify for a claim. In the state of California, lemon laws apply to both new and previously owned vehicles. In some cases, these vehicles are referred to as “refurbished.”

It is significant to note that, most cases, the vehicle must still have an active warranty from the manufacturer or the dealer. Lemon laws can sometimes be unclear when it comes to used vehicles. Understanding these details will help you determine if your vehicle will qualify. Let’s look at some of the factors which are taken into consideration when a lemon law claim is evaluated.

Lemon Law Qualifications

Many people do not realize that even used cars from buy here pay here establishments, are required to offer a 30-day warranty at the minimum on any vehicle they sell. In some cases, a 1,000-mile warranty will be offered instead. Either way, this warranty is required by California law. This law was put into effect in 2013 in order to protect consumers. The 30 days or 1,000 miles gives the consumer the opportunity to use the vehicle for enough time to establish whether or not the car is in fact a “lemon.” A lemon would be considered a vehicle that was sold in poor working condition. Car dealers must, by law, disclose to consumers the working order of the vehicle being sold.

You should keep in mind that this type of warranty is the bare minimum required by law. A reputable dealer will often offer a much better warranty. Certified Pre-Owned vehicles will often come with a solid warranty which is better than the minimum required by law.

Following you will find a list of qualifying factors that could make a vehicle eligible for a lemon law claim:

  • The vehicle must not be purchased from a private individual. However, the vehicle must be purchased from a retailer.
  • The vehicle must have an active warranty in place. This can be the original warranty, or a warranty offered by the dealer.
  • The vehicle has a significant malfunction or defect.
  • And also, the vehicle required an extensive amount of time and/or expense in order to be fixed.
  • The vehicle is still not in working order following repairs.
  • Despite a “reasonable number” of repair attempts, the car still is not fixed, and the problem persists.

Which Vehicles Are Covered?

Lemon laws in California, apply to car owners who have purchased vehicles to be used primarily for “personal, family or household” use. These consumers are protected from being victimized or injured by faulty manufacturing.

Those who have purchased vehicles for commercial use are also protected. Vehicles that are being used for commercial purposes are included under lemon law protection as long as the vehicle does not exceed a gross weight limit of 10,000 pounds. It is also necessary that the company which purchased the vehicle only operating five or fewer vehicles for business purposes. In this instance, a vehicle can include a truck, car, RV, SUV, trailer, or watercraft.

As it pertains to commercial vehicles, it is still necessary that the vehicle has an active warranty in place. Many consumers think that they are only protected if the original manufacturer’s warranty is still in place. This is not accurate. Lemon laws also apply to vehicles that are covered under any warranty which the dealership, used or otherwise, might issue.

You should note that if your vehicle was repurchased as a buyback and then resold with a new warranty, this will also qualify for a lemon law claim.

Used Vehicles VS New Vehicles

Lemon laws can sometimes get confusing as they pertain to used vehicles. Lemon laws in California are not as specific and detailed concerning used vehicles as they are for new vehicles. This can lead to some confusion for consumers. This is why it is a good idea to contact a knowledgeable lawyer who can assist you with this.

Repair Attempts

According to California lemon laws, a manufacturer is required to fix a vehicle. If the vehicle cannot be repaired after a reasonable number of attempts, the vehicle must be replaced. Consumers often wonder, though, how many is a reasonable number of attempts.

The number of efforts will depend on how serious the defect was. The more serious the defect, the fewer attempts are allowed. For instance, if the defect affects the safety of the vehicle and passengers, then only one or two attempts are allowed. The reason for this is because, if more attempts are needed, it indicates that the vehicle is truly not safe to be operational for anyone. In other situations, where bodily injury or death is not at stake, four attempts are considered reasonable.


Your vehicle may be eligible for lemon law protection even if the manufacturer’s warranty has run out. However, it is necessary that a dealership warranty still be in place. All dealerships in California are required to offer a 30-day or 1,000-mile warranty.

You can learn more about California lemon laws by contacting a lemon lawyer in your area.

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