The California Lemon Law was created by the California Legislature to provide relief for consumers who purchased or leased a vehicle within the state of California. The specific lemon law provision falls under a more general section of California’s laws called the Song-Beverly Consumer Warranty Act. Song-Beverly provides more general relief to consumers of all products purchased within the state with an express written warranty. Under California law, consumers are entitled to either monetary compensation or a replacement for their defective vehicle when a manufacturer, or its agent, is unable to fix a material defect after a reasonable number of repair attempts. A consumer must have purchased or leased the vehicle with an express written warranty provided by the manufacturer or they will have no basis for a lemon law claim.
Filing a lemon law claim is essentially asking a judge or an arbitrator to make a manufacturer honor the express written warranty they provided to the consumer at the time the vehicle was leased or purchased. As with most areas of the law, the lemon law should be considered as a guide, not an absolute rule. There are many gray areas within this section of the law that both the consumer and the manufacturer may argue during litigation. For example, a consumer may argue that the vehicle has a material defect that is covered under the express written warranty and while the manufacturer agrees that the defect is covered under the warranty, they may argue that the defect is not a material defect. Another arguable area of the law is whether a manufacturer has had a reasonable number of attempts to repair the material defect. In this seemingly blurred area of the law, a judge or an arbitrator will have the final say as to whether a manufacturer, or its agent, has had an adequate opportunity to repair a material defect in the vehicle.
To aid in clarifying the section of the lemon law pertaining to repair attempts, the California legislature created the lemon law presumption, which provides specific conditions that must be met to qualify under the law. This section of the law can be confusing to consumers because it contains details such as a definite number of repair attempts that must be performed. Consumers should remember that a successful legal claim does not always meet the conditions required under the presumption; however, when all the conditions under the presumption are met, the consumer’s vehicle ispresumed to qualify under the lemon law. At the same time, it is possible to meet all of the criteria required under the presumption and have an unsuccessful legal claim. Because the California Lemon Law has many areas that can be argued for the benefit of the consumer or the manufacturer, consumers should seek the aid of a competent and experienced attorney to aid in a successful resolution of their case