Buying a vehicle, whether new or pre-owned, is always a thrilling experience. You worked so hard to purchase the car, and you’re excited to put it to use. But there might be in an instance where the vehicle you ended up buying turns out to be a dud. There could be issues with the steering or the brakes. You might notice cosmetic defects like a botched paint job or a horrible interior stench. When you feel like the “new” car you have in possession has tons of issues, it could mean that you’ve bought a lemon.


What is a lemon car? 

States have different interpretations of a lemon vehicle, but typically, a car is considered to be a lemon if it has a “substantial defect” covered under express warranty and if it continues to have the defect after a “reasonable number” of repairs. What exactly qualifies for substantial defect or number of repair attempts varies by state, so it’s best to check the laws in your state of residence to help you figure out whether your newly-purchased car is a lemon or not. 

In California, the same rules apply. In order for a car to be classified as a lemon under the law and the buyer to receive the necessary compensation, the vehicle must first have a defect that impairs its use, value, and safety, and that it has undergone a certain number of repair attempts. 


Types of vehicles covered under the lemon law

  • Cars, pickup trucks, vans, and SUVs
  • The chassis, chassis cab, and drivetrain of a motorhome
  • Dealer-owned vehicles and demonstrators
  • Many vehicles purchased or leased primarily for business use. 
  • Vehicles purchased or leased for personal, family, or household purposes.


The California Lemon Law Presumption

Lemon law presumption is different from state to state, but in California, a vehicle is considered to be a lemon if, during the first 18 months or 18,000 miles after the purchase or lease of the car, any of the following takes place:

  • The vehicle has been repaired at least twice for a serious safety defect that can result in bodily injuries or death
  • The vehicle has been repaired at least four times for similar non-substantial safety defects
  • The vehicle has been out of service for over 30 days for any combination of defects

If the buyer of the vehicle can demonstrate any of the scenarios mentioned, then their purchased automobile can be presumed to be a lemon. The presiding judge will confirm to the jury that the buyer has done their part in proving that the manufacturer conducted a reasonable number of repair attempts to fix the vehicle. The burden then shifts to the defending party to counter-argue. 


What to do if your car is a lemon

Even with all these provisions, the lemon car law in San Diego is still incredibly nuanced. It takes a professional to navigate the situation and make a valid claim. If you’ve recently purchased a lemon vehicle and believe that you deserve compensation, get in touch with a lemon law attorney in San Diego like us to see how we can help.