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What Kinds of Defects Are Covered by the Lemon Law (and What Kinds Aren’t)?

Auto defects: young man checking inside the hood of his car

California’s Lemon Law is designed to protect consumers who purchase or lease new vehicles that turn out to be defective. When a vehicle consistently fails to meet quality and performance standards, the Lemon Law provides a remedy. However, not all defects will qualify under this law. Read on as we explore the types of defects covered by California’s Lemon Law, as well as those that aren’t. If you find yourself stuck with a lemon and need help exercising your rights under California’s lemon law, reach out to Nita Lemon Law Firm to review your case with a skilled and experienced California lemon law attorney.

What Defects Are Covered by California Lemon Law?

The primary requirement for a defect to be covered under the Lemon Law is that it must be substantial. A substantial defect is one that significantly impairs the use, value, or safety of the vehicle. These defects typically manifest in critical components such as the engine, transmission, brakes, and steering, which can affect the vehicle’s overall performance and safety. If the issue is minor or cosmetic, it might not warrant lemon law protection.

Another required piece of lemon law coverage is that the defect is covered under warranty. California Lemon Law applies to defects that occur during the warranty period provided by the manufacturer. This requirement also means that the defect must first be reported to the manufacturer or its representative (like a dealership) during the warranty period. Even if the warranty expires while the vehicle is still being repaired, the law may still cover the defect.

A vehicle can be considered a lemon if the manufacturer has made multiple attempts to repair the same defect without success. Specifically, the law provides that if a defect persists after a reasonable number of repair attempts, the vehicle may qualify under the Lemon Law. Although a “reasonable number” is not defined in the law, this requirement typically means at least two attempts for serious safety defects or four attempts for other substantial defects.

Additionally, if your vehicle spends an excessive amount of time in the shop for repairs of warranty-covered defects, it may qualify as a lemon. In California, if the vehicle is out of service for more than 30 cumulative days for repairs during the warranty period, this fact can meet the criteria for a Lemon Law claim.

What Defects Are Not Covered?

1. Non-Substantial Defects. Minor issues that do not significantly impair the vehicle’s use, value, or safety are typically not covered. These could include minor rattles, cosmetic blemishes, or non-essential component malfunctions that do not affect the vehicle’s overall performance or safety.

2. Defects Due to Misuse or Unauthorized Modifications. Any damage or defects resulting from misuse, neglect, or unauthorized modifications of the vehicle are not covered by the Lemon Law. This includes issues stemming from accidents, environmental damage, or aftermarket parts installed by someone other than the manufacturer or authorized dealer.

3. Defects Outside the Warranty Period. Defects that are discovered after the manufacturer’s warranty has expired are generally not covered unless the defect was reported during the warranty period and continues to persist despite repair attempts.

4. Regular Wear and Tear. Normal wear and tear or deterioration from the regular use of the vehicle is not covered under the Lemon Law. For example, brake pads and tires that wear out over time are not considered defects under this law.

Contact Nita Lemon Law Firm for Help With Your California Lemon Law Claim

If you believe your vehicle qualifies as a lemon under California law, it is important to keep detailed records of all repairs and communication with the dealership and manufacturer. Consulting with a knowledgeable lemon law attorney can provide you with the necessary guidance and representation to navigate the legal process effectively.

At Nita Lemon Law Firm, we help consumers understand their rights and achieve favorable outcomes in California Lemon Law cases. If you are experiencing ongoing problems with your vehicle, contact us for a free consultation to determine if your vehicle’s issues qualify under California Lemon Law and explore your legal options.

Understanding your rights is the first step toward resolving your vehicle issues and ensuring your safety and satisfaction with your purchase. Call Nita Lemon Law Firm today at 213-232-5055 in Los Angeles or 877-921-5256 throughout California statewide.

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