Lemon laws are American state laws that provide a remedy for purchasers of cars that repeatedly fail to meet standards of quality and performance. These cars are called lemons. The federal lemon law (the Magnuson-Moss Warranty Act) protects citizens of all states. State lemon laws vary by state and may not necessarily cover used or leased cars. The rights afforded to consumers by lemon laws may exceed the warranties expressed in purchase contracts. Lemon law is the common nickname for these laws, but each state has different names for the laws and acts.
In California, lemon laws cover anything mechanical, as do the federal lemon laws. The federal lemon law also provides that the warranter may be obligated to pay your attorney fees if you prevail in a lemon law suit, as do most state lemon laws.
Used Car Purchases
If you purchased a used car there are two situations in which you may be qualified for cash or other lemon law benefits:
Situation #1: You may be entitled to compensation for breach of warranty if you had one of the following warranties:
Any warranty left from the manufacturer when you purchased your vehicle
(for example, almost all vehicles sold with fewer than 36,000 miles
will have this. But if the warranty is longer, you may have even more
Your vehicle was "Certified" by the Manufacturer (in which case it came with a short Manufacturer's Warranty, typically 1 year).
You purchased an Extended Warranty backed by the Manufacturer (typically 5 years or longer).
Normally, these types of cases fall outside the scope of the state lemon law but are covered under special federal lemon laws.
Situation #2: When No Manufacturer's Warranty Exists If you do not have a manufacturer's warranty of any kind you may be entitled to compensation for violations of consumer protection laws that fall outside of the lemon laws.
The following is a list of some of the problems and/or issues which may be present in your vehicle.
- Prior history of mechanical problems known to the seller: Laundered
- Previously salvaged or wrecked.
- Fraudulently rolled back odometer.
- Rental car, police car, taxi, or similar.
- Stolen, stripped and rebuilt.
- Involved in a flood.
Lemon Laws vary from state to state.
If you knowingly purchase a car in "as is" condition you DO NOT void your rights under applicable lemon laws.
Technical service bulletins are instructions from the manufacturer that alert dealerships of specific defects or necessary repairs in certain models. Usually car dealers will not voluntarily inform you about such defects; however technical service bulletins do not necessarily mean the vehicle has a recall or mean the repair will be paid for by the manufacturer.
Lemon laws are not limited to cars. There are RV lemon laws, boat
lemon laws, motorcycle, wheelchair, and computer lemon laws.
About the California Lemon Law