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HomeNewsThe Song-Beverly Consumer Warranty Act: California's Lemon Law

The Song-Beverly Consumer Warranty Act: California’s Lemon Law

The Song-Beverly Consumer Warranty Act is the official title of California’s Lemon Law. The California Lemon Law Act, which begins at Section 1790 of the California Civil Code, provides an outline of manufacturers’ legal duties to customers regarding implicit and explicit warranties.

Under the Song-Beverly Consumer Warranty Act, manufacturers in California are required to provide an implied warranty stating that their product is in good working condition at the time of sale and that it complies with all claims on the product’s package and label. Moreover, the maker must ensure that the product meets the consumer’s requirements. Furthermore, the Song-Beverly Consumer Warranty Act requires manufacturers to provide an explicit warranty with their products that guarantees the manufacturer will offer service and repairs in the event of a defective product – and that service and repair centers should be located in California. Finally, manufacturers are obligated to refund or replace devices that cannot be fixed after several tries under the Song-Beverly Consumer Warranty Act. This is the Lemon Law section of the Act.

How Do You Determine If the Car, Truck, Motorcycle, Recreational Vehicle, Boat, or Trailer Is a Lemon?

The only way to determine if your automobile or watercraft is a lemon is to consult with an experienced, competent attorney about the specifics of your case. However, if you like to learn more about the specifics of the law prior to your appointment, the following are the general requirements:

  • A written warranty is required. 

Without a written warranty, usually referred to as an express warranty, the law does not apply. However, you may be protected by other certain consumer protection laws. The manufacturer may provide you with a written warranty (or even from a dealer on a second-hand car). Be mindful, though, because there are some dealers who would claim that the Lemon Law is only applicable to the first 18 months only or 18,000 miles of a vehicle’s life, but this is simply not entirely true! It covers you for the duration of the car’s warranty – and maybe beyond if the issues arose while the vehicle was still under warranty.

  • The vehicle should not be owned by a company. 

Generally, your car must have been acquired for “personal, family, or household use.” Many commercial cars utilized by small enterprises, on the other hand, will come within the umbrella. In general, if your small company owns or leases less than five vehicles and the car in question weighs less than 10,000 pounds, the car qualifies for state lemon law protection. 

  • Repairs have been done to try and fix your car but to no avail. 

If you have a problem with the vehicle that you got, go back to the manufacturer as soon as possible and allow them, for a reasonable number of attempts, to repair your vehicle’s problem(s). As to how many tries is an acceptable number or considered to be reasonable will depend on the nature of the vehicle’s issues or defects. For instance, if the issue is for the occupant’s safety (such as the brakes or airbags), fewer attempts will be deemed required than if the issue is one of the non-safety problems. The length of time your vehicle, truck, or RV remained in the shop for repair services may also affect the reasonable number of times of repair attempts. For instance, if your vehicle or truck is out of service for a total of 30 days due to warranty repairs within 18,000 miles or its first 18 months – whichever comes first – you are entitled to what is known as a “presumption” that your vehicle is a lemon.

  • The car should have material defects. 

Your vehicle or truck’s issue(s) should be material defects. They should materially impede the vehicle’s usage, value, or safety. On most occasions, you would think that you already know what to do but do not just have a guess concerning the effect of the issue because your guess might be incorrect. You can call a law firm and consult with a competent lemon law attorney about any issues you may have concerning your vehicle. They can assist you in determining if your vehicle could be considered a lemon. 

  • The vehicle should be registered in accordance with the provisions of the California Vehicle Code. 

If you legally drive a car on the road, it is almost certain that it is registered with the state. However, it may not be the case if you own an off-road vehicle, including a dirt bike and all-terrain vehicle (ATV) four-wheeler.

  • The defect should not involve aftermarket parts. 

Your warranty may be void if the problem is caused by an aftermarket part, including a special tire as well as a customized exhaust system. However, you could still have a case if you have installed aftermarket parts, but your car has unrelated material problems.

  • The defect is the effect of abuse or lack of maintenance. 

Your warranty will certainly go into detail about your vehicle’s maintenance requirements. For instance, if you did not change or add oil to the car, resulting in major engine problems, you would not be eligible for a refund or replacement under the lemon law. In the same manner, if the defect is the effect of a road accident, the manufacturer is not liable for repairs or reimbursements.

  • The defect is an effect of normal wear and tear. 

You should not expect that your car will last forever. You could not have a Lemon Law claim if the defect was caused by normal wear and tear over time.

While each case is unique and complications may occur, these are the fundamental principles of California’s lemon law. Therefore, if you have some doubts about whether your vehicle is a lemon, the proper way to secure your consumer rights is to consult a competent law firm.

If you could prove that your car is a lemon due to a material defect, you are either entitled to a new vehicle or reimbursement for your costs. And keeping all documents and receipts pertaining to your car and its charges is also very important to your case.

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