Repair Attempt Requirements in California Lemon Law 

February 29, 2024 Lemon Law

California has had positive consumer protection in place for vehicle purchasers since 1970 when the state passed the Song-Beverly Consumer Protection Act—later known as The Lemon Law. Under California Civil Code Section 1793.2, 1793.22, 1794, the owner of a vehicle that has undergone “repeated failed repair attempts” for the same defect or malfunction is entitled to a buyback, replacement vehicle, or a refund, as well as compensation for related expenses such as rental car fees and rideshare costs.

For years manufacturers and owners of Lemon vehicles in California disputed the meaning of the vague terms “repeated failed repair attempts” with manufacturers often demanding further attempts at repairs before issuing a refund. Fortunately, the precedent has been set in enough Lemon Law claims in California for more specific guidelines for repair attempts before a car, truck, or RV is deemed a Lemon under the law.

car in shop

How Many Repair Attempts Are Required Before a Vehicle Is Officially a Lemon in California?

When repeated failed repair attempts make a vehicle unsafe, unreliable, or lower its value or use, the state requires manufacturers to buy back the vehicle, issue a refund, or replace it with a vehicle of similar value. But first, the vehicle must meet the state’s specific qualifications for the Lemon Law. These include the following number of repair attempts and other qualifications:

  • The vehicle must have undergone four or more failed repair attempts for the same defect or malfunction, or
  • Two or more failed repair attempts for a vehicle with a defect that presents a significant safety hazard for the driver, passengers, and others on the road, or
  • If the vehicle has spent 30 or more days in the dealership repair shop and the defect still persists—the days do not have to be consecutive

Besides the above number of failed repair attempts or days in the repair shop, a car, truck, or RV must still be covered under the original manufacturer’s warranty and the defect or malfunction must have appeared within the first 18,000 miles or 18 months of ownership.

The manufacturer may dispute the Lemon Law claim if the owner abused or misused the vehicle in a way that caused the malfunction or unrepairable defect. Depending on the terms of the individual warranty, some owners of lemon cars must first have notified the manufacturer of the persistent defect in order to qualify for a Lemon Law claim in California.

If a vehicle qualifies as a Lemon, the law compels the manufacturer to offer a buyback, refund, or replacement vehicle of similar value and type.

What About Leased Cars and Lemon Law Repair Requirements?

California residents with leased vehicles also enjoy protection under the state’s Lemon Law. If a leased vehicle has a persistent defect despite four or more failed attempts at repair, or two or more attempts for a repair that impacts the vehicle’s safety, it qualifies for a Lemon Law claim. Lessees are entitled to a refund of the amount they’ve paid toward their lease agreement and a replacement vehicle of similar value and type as well as refunds for related expenses like rental car fees and other transportation costs.

Does My Used Car With Repeated Failed Repairs Qualify for the Lemon Law in California?

Unless a used vehicle owner bought their car “as is” they are also entitled to a Lemon Law buyback, refund, or replacement vehicle as long as the used car, truck, or RV is under its original factory warranty and has had four or more repair attempts to no avail or two or more repair attempts for a defect that compromises vehicle safety.

If you have a question about whether or not your car is a Lemon, an Encino Lemon Law attorney can help.

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