Lemon Law vs. Warranty Claims: What’s the Difference?

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Posted By | June 27, 2023 | Lemon Law

Consumers in California and throughout the United States have a right to expect the products they purchase to be safe and reliable, including their vehicles. When purchasing new products, many companies—including automobile manufacturers—include a warranty. The automobile warranty is a contract guaranteeing that your vehicle will be free of defects for a specified period of time or number of miles driven. If a problem or defect arises with a vehicle still under the warranty, the manufacturer must repair the defect under the terms of the warranty. But what if the defect persists despite repeated repair attempts? That’s when a warranty isn’t enough and it’s time to consider the next step—a lemon law claim.

When Should a Warranty Claim Become a Lemon Law Claim?

A car’s factory warranty guarantees your vehicle will operate safely, and reliably, with all parts and systems working as intended by their design. The factory warranty promises free repairs at the dealership should any part fail under normal use. If your new car—or a used Certified Pre-Owned car purchased while still covered under its factory warranty—has a part or system that develops a problem, your first move should be to request a repair guaranteed to you under the terms of the warranty. In most cases, a simple dealership repair or replacement of a defective part takes care of the problem. But what if you get your car, truck, or SUV back from the dealership and a week later the same mechanical failure occurs again? Even worse, what if you find yourself returning to the dealership for the same issue over and over again and they just can’t seem to fix the problem? If it begins to feel like your car is spending more time in the repair shop at your local dealership than on the road, your next step should be a California lemon law claim.

Understanding California Lemon Law Claims

The lemon law in California came about as the court’s way of offering redress to consumers who purchase a vehicle in good faith, expecting it to function as promised, only to find that it has problems that cannot be adequately repaired or resolved. While you could continue to send your vehicle back for repairs over and over again under the terms of the warranty, the state understands that having a vehicle that’s continually in the repair shop is not only an inconvenience—it’s an injustice. The California Lemon Law addresses that injustice. Under the state’s lemon law, vehicle owners can make a claim against the manufacturer demanding compensation in the form of a refund, buy-back, or replacement vehicle.

When is a Vehicle Eligible for a Lemon Law Claim?

According to California’s civil code, your vehicle fits the definition of a lemon under the following circumstances:

  • It still has one or more defective parts after 4 or more repeated repair attempts
  • The defect causes a significant safety risk and is still defective after 2 repair attempts
  • The vehicle has been in the repair shop for 30 or more (non-consecutive) days

In any of the above circumstances, a vehicle fits the definition of a lemon and California’s lemon law entitles the owner to a buyback, refund, or replacement vehicle.

When the coverage provided by your car’s warranty isn’t enough to resolve a recurring mechanical failure, speak to a Los Angeles Lemon Law attorney about filing your lemon law claim so you can achieve justice and get back on the road in a safe, reliable vehicle.