California’s Lemon Law

California’s Lemon Law covers any product that is purchased or used primarily for personal, family, or household purposes, including cars, trucks, RVs, motorcycles, computers.

The Lemon Law also covers any business use vehicle if the vehicle weighs less than 10,000 pounds and the business that owns the vehicle has five or fewer vehicles registered in its name.  (See Cal. Civ. Code § 1793.22(e)(2).)

California’s Lemon Law requires that:

  • Any company that is unable to repair a consumer product under warranty within a reasonable number of repair attempts must either replace it or refund the purchase price.  (See Cal. Civ. Code § 1793.2(d).)
  • Consumer products that are sold at retail in California must be fit for their ordinary use for at least one-year after the date of the sale.  (See Cal. Civ. Code §§ 1792; 1791.1.)
  • All repairs made under warranty must begin promptly and must be completed within 30 days.  (See Cal. Civ. Code § 1793.2(b).)
  • Warrantors of consumer goods must provide service and repair facilities reasonably close to all places in California where their goods are sold.  (See Cal. Civ. Code § 1793.2(a).)

Unfortunately, few companies actually comply with these obligations.  If a warrantor violates any of these obligations, a consumer is entitled to bring a lawsuit and may recover:

  • The amount paid or payable for the product (Civ. Code § 1794(a), (b); § 1793.2(d).)
  • Any taxes and license fees paid.  (Cal. Civ. Code § 1794(a), (b); § 1793.2(d).)
  • Rental expenses actually incurred.  (Cal. Civ. Code § 1794(a), (b); § 1793.2(d).)
  • Any costs paid to repair the good.  (Cal. Civ. Code § 1794(b)(2).)
  • A civil penalty of up to two times actual damages.  (Cal. Civ. Code § 1794(c).)
  • Reasonable attorney fees and court costs incurred.  (Cal. Civ. Code § 1794(d).)

Although California’s lemon law authorizes manufacturers to establish arbitration programs, you are not required to use it before bringing a claim under California’s lemon law.  Many manufacturer operated arbitration programs do not comply with California’s requirements and, in our opinion, do not render fair verdicts.  Even worse, any decision against you in arbitration can be used against you in litigation.

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