California Lemon Laws

California Lemon Law Details

There is a long standing tradition in Hollywood to give credit to everyone associated with the making of a movie or TV show. From the stars, writers and directors on down to the personal assistants and caterers; everybody gets a mention in the credit roll. It would only stand to reason that a California Lemon Law written to protect consumers couldn’t just be called that. Nor could it merely be called Section 1790-1790.4 of the Civil Code.

In California, the lemon law is referred to as the Song-Beverly Warranty Rights. These would be the names of the two legislatures who originally put forth the bill. Although they might not get a star on the Hollywood walk of fame, you will certainly remember their name if you ever get stuck with a lemon.

One unique benefit of the California Lemon Law is that it extends for the entire period of your warranty. In other words, if you have a three year warrant and your “lemon problem” crops up after two years, you can still seek a remedy. However, there is a statute of limitations of four years from when the warranty expires to when you can bring a lawsuit. Bottom line: don’t wait!

California Lemon Law Qualifications

Built on the template of other states’ lemon laws, the California version states that if you have a defect with your car that is covered by your warranty you need to allow the car maker a reasonable amount of attempts to fix the problem. That reasonable amount has a limit of four or 30 days of non-use; whichever comes first.

After that time, you can seek a remedy from the car maker. There are a few caveats with these qualifications.

First of all, this law only applies to cars that have been bought primarily for personal or family use. If the car in question was purchased for a business or company car then the gross vehicle weight needs to come in under 10,000 pounds. This law does not cover motorcycles or off-road vehicles.

California Lemon Law Remedies

If a car maker has their own state-certified arbitration board, you will need to work through them to resolve the matter. The key word there is “state-certified.” If the auto manufacturer does not have a state-certified program then they will have to automatically comply with the California code.

Under the law, if your car has met the qualifications for what constitutes a lemon, then you are entitled to a replacement car or full refund. That choice will be yours. Along with that choice the car maker will be responsible for paying for or refunding any sales or use tax, license, registration, and other official fees. Additionally, the car maker will also have to reimburse you any costs you paid out for towing, repairs or rental cars.

Even with all that potential refund coming your way, the auto maker is entitled to recoup a use cost for the vehicle. Basically this means they can charge for those times you actually got to drive the car when it wasn’t in the shop.

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