Song-Beverly, California’s consumer warranty law, requires the manufacturer of a new motor vehicle leased or sold with a manufacturer’s written warranty to repair the vehicle during the warranty period so that it conforms to the warranty. Should the manufacturer go out of business, the seller (car dealer) must live up to the warranty.
The vehicle may be a car, van, truck, or the chassis and cab portions of a motorhome, and must have been bought or used primarily for personal, family, or household purposes.
Alternatively, the vehicle may have been bought or used for business and personal, family, or household purposes by a person, including a partnership, limited liability company, corporation, association, or any other legal entity, to which not more than five motor vehicles are registered in this state and the gross vehicle weight is under 10,000 pounds.
The law applies to new and used vehicles that are covered by the original manufacturer’s warranty. You may also have protection if the car dealer sold you an extended warranty (service contract).
If the manufacturer or dealer cannot fix the vehicle to conform to the warranty within a “reasonable” number of repair attempts during the entire period that the warranty is in effect, the California “Lemon Law” requires the manufacturer to replace the vehicle or reimburse the buyer/lessee for its purchase price, whichever the consumer prefers.
The Lemon Law does allow the manufacturer to recover a mileage offset for the consumer’s use of the vehicle prior to the first repair attempt.
California Lemon Law Presumption
You do NOT need to meet the Lemon Law Presumption to have a Lemon Law case. You only need to have given the manufacturer a reasonable number of attempts to repair the vehicle. A presumption is a rule of evidence that can be used in your favor at trial. The Lemon Law makes a legal presumption that a vehicle is a “lemon” if:
The manufacturer or its agents (dealer) have made four or more attempts to repair the same problem, or the vehicle has been out of service for more than 30 days while being repaired for any number of problems or the manufacturer or its agents have made two or more attempts to repair a problem that is likely to lead to serious injury or death.
To qualify for any of the three options above, the attempts should occur within 18 months or 18,000 miles of the vehicle’s delivery to the consumer, whichever occurs first.
Also, the problems must be covered by warranty, substantially impair the vehicle’s use, value or safety to the consumer, and must not be caused by abuse of the vehicle.
This presumption may be defended in Court. The manufacturer is entitled to prove that no problem exists, that a reasonable number of repair attempts has not been made, or that the problem does not substantially impair the vehicle’s use, value, or safety.