Once you realize your broken-down car qualifies for California’s Lemon Law, you may wonder what the timeline for this process is.

If your dealer or manufacturer cannot repair your vehicle, the process of filing for a replacement or refund could help you greatly.

Arbitration

The first step you should take once you know you have a lemon, according to the California Department of Consumer Affairs, is to seek out a third party for arbitration. A person who has a CDCA Arbitration Certification can legally guide you through this process. Instead of going directly to federal court, you should first abide by state laws.

Forms

Filing for arbitration is relatively straightforward. You may have obtained a form while purchasing or leasing your car that you can send in. If not, then you can go online to the ACP’s website and print one out.

Since there is not a set number for how many repairs or attempts are “too many” for a car to be a lemon, you must rely on whether the amount was reasonable or not. This judgment varies with each case.

Process

Once a program processes your request, they will come to a decision in 40 days or less. You should receive an answer about the status of your vehicle within that time. If the arbitration program needs more time to obtain additional information, officials may contact you to alert you about this. These questions may delay the process, but only up to 30 days.

If you approve the decision made, then the manufacturer of your vehicle has 30 days to make the necessary changes or replacements. Some of these decisions could include a new car, a refund, or a repair.