Understanding the California lemon law

Dealing with car repairs is part of life. However, when a consumer purchases a new vehicle or a vehicle that is still covered by a manufacturer's warranty, it is often with the hope that the car will not need repairs, at least in the beginning. Having to make multiple trips to a mechanic can quickly become discouraging, and many turn to California's lemon law to understand their options.

The lemon law, also called the Tanner Consumer Protection Act, protects car owners from vehicles that have irreparable defects that affect the safety, value or use of the vehicle. When a car owner experiences the same malfunction numerous times within the first 18 months or 18,000 miles, or the vehicle has a series of issues in that time, the law considers that car a lemon. Nevertheless, the owner must take the appropriate steps when seeking satisfaction through the lemon law.

It is important for a new car owner to keep records of the attempted repairs of the vehicle. The law requires consumers to make a reasonable number of attempts, between two and four, depending on the severity or danger of the defect. However, if an owner has not had use of the vehicle for more than 30 days, not necessarily in succession, the car may be a lemon.

A consumer who purchases a lemon has the right to a replacement vehicle or a refund. As one can imagine, it is not always easy to convince manufacturers that one of their vehicles is a lemon or to obtain the satisfaction provided through the California lemon law. Having an attorney to advocate has proved valuable for many consumers.