How to report your car as a lemon in California

If you have bought a car that is defective and is still under warranty from the original manufacturer, you may be entitled to have your car repurchased or replaced under California’s Lemon Law. However, before filing a claim, you need to have a clear understanding of the law and how to report your car as a lemon.

Under the Lemon Law “presumption,” your car is presumed to be a lemon if significant problems have occurred during the first 18 months or within the first 18,000 miles, whichever comes first. However, your car could very well qualify for replacement or repurchase if it experiences significant defects at any time it’s covered by the warranty or within the mileage cap of the warranty.

To protect your rights under the state’s Lemon Law, you must take your car back to a “representative” of the manufacturer in order to have it repaired. Most of the time, the representative in question is the dealership. 

The dealership must be given a “reasonable number of attempts” to fix the problems with the car. If, after a reasonable number of attempts, the dealership or manufacturer can’t fix your car, the manufacturer must either replace it or refund the purchase price.

While there are no set number of reasonable repair attempts, California’s Lemon Law Presumption includes the following guidelines for determining when a reasonable number of attempts have been made:

  • The dealership and/or manufacturer hasn’t fixed the same problem after four or more attempts
  • The problems with your car could cause death or serious bodily injury, and the dealership and/or manufacturer has made at least two unsuccessful repair attempts
  • Your car has been in the shop for more than 30 days (not necessarily consecutive) for repair of any problems covered by the warranty.

What happens if the manufacturer or dealership won’t fix your car?

When is it time to contact an attorney

If you’ve given the dealership a reasonable number of attempts to repair the problem, and they can’t fix your car or won’t fix it, it’s time to hire a lemon law attorney, especially if the manufacturer is balking at buying back or replacing the car.

Before filing your lemon law claim, you’ll need to gather all of the relevant documentation including a copy of your purchase agreement as well as all the documentation concerning the dealership repair orders and copies of any correspondence you’ve had with the manufacturer.

File a case

If you’ve bought a car that turns out to be a lemon and decide to file a lemon law case, you’ll want to consult with an experienced lemon law attorney. Filing a lemon law complaint can be complicated plus the major manufacturers usually hire experienced defense attorneys to represent them in these types of cases.

The Law Offices of Robert F. Brennan, lemon law attorney in Los Angeles, handles most lemon law cases on a contingency basis. Contact our office to schedule a free consultation to discuss your case.

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