What is the Song-Beverly Consumer Warranty Act?
California has very strong laws to protect consumers who purchase new and pre-owned automobiles with defects that cannot be repaired. Enacted in 1970, The Song-Beverly Consumer Warranty Act is one of the most powerful statutes of its type in the country. Notably, it levels the playing field for consumers by providing them with a legal mechanism to stand up against auto dealers and manufacturers.
What Does the Song-Beverly Consumer Warranty Act Cover?
The Song-Beverly Consumer Warranty Act — also known as California’s Lemon Law — offers important safeguards for consumers in breach of warranty cases for consumer goods. Under the Act, a consumer good is nearly any product purchased for non-commercial use except clothing or food. The Act is perhaps most well-known for the protections it offers to those who purchase defective vehicles.
Significantly, the Song-Beverly Consumer Warranty Act covers vehicles used for personal, family, and household purposes. Cars, SUVs, vans, pickup trucks, and motorhomes that are still under the original manufacturer’s warranty all fall within the statute. Not only does the law apply to new and used vehicles that have been purchased, but it also applies to those that have been leased.
What is the Tanner Consumer Protection Act?
The Tanner Consumer Protection Act is the specific provision in the Song-Beverly Consumer Warranty Act that establishes the guidelines that must be met for a vehicle to qualify as a lemon. It also sets forth a presumption that a car is a lemon if the defect that can’t be repaired arose within 18 months of the vehicle’s delivery — or the first 18,000 miles on the odometer.
It’s essential to understand that the lemon law can only be asserted when the defect is the result of a nonconformity. A consumer may not file a suit under the lemon law for problems arising from misuse or abuse of the vehicle, or wear and tear.
What Does a Consumer Need to Prove to Invoke Their Lemon Law Protections?
Importantly, vehicles must satisfy specific criteria to invoke the protections afforded by the Song-Beverly Consumer Warranty Act. The statute can be applied in cases in which a vehicle was purchased within the state of California and fails to conform to the original manufacturer’s warranty. However, before a consumer can assert their rights under the statute, a reasonable number of repair attempts must first be made.
To commence a lawsuit under the lemon law, the vehicle must have a substantial defect that impairs its safety or value. Four repair attempts are usually sufficient to prove the nonconformity cannot be fixed. But if the defect involves a safety hazard that could cause injury to the driver, their passengers, and others on the road, only two repair attempts are necessary. Consumers may also be able to satisfy the lemon law if the vehicle remained in the repair shop for a total of 30 days or more and was not remedied.
Critically, the defect must be discovered while the vehicle is still under the original warranty in order for the lemon law to apply. In addition, a four-year statute of limitations to file a lawsuit is imposed from the date the consumer learned about the nonconformity.
What Remedies Are Available to Consumers Under the Song-Beverly Consumer Warranty Act?
If a vehicle qualifies as a lemon, the Song-Beverly Consumer Warranty Act allows consumers their choice of a refund or replacement vehicle. Consumers who opt for a replacement are entitled to one that is substantially identical to the original vehicle. By opting for a refund, recoverable damages can include the cost of the vehicle, as well as incidental and consequential damages.
Specifically, by choosing the refund option, a consumer may be entitled to the following:
- The actual price paid for the vehicle (minus a mileage offset)
- Finance charges
- Sales tax and fees included in the vehicle sale
- Reimbursement for reasonable towing expenses
- The cost of a rental car
- Out of pocket repair costs
Consumers may also be eligible to receive a civil penalty up to two times the amount of actual damages if they can show the manufacturer willfully failed to comply with the lemon law requirements.
Contact an Experienced Southern California Lemon Law Attorney
If you purchased a vehicle that fails to conform to its warranty, you might be eligible to file a lawsuit under The Song-Beverly Consumer Warranty Act — California’s Lemon Law. It’s crucial to consult with a knowledgeable lemon law attorney who can assess your case and advise you regarding your legal rights and remedies. The attorneys at The Ledbetter Law Firm have extensive experience fighting for the rights of consumers who have bought lemons — and help to ensure they receive the maximum compensation to which they’re entitled.
The Ledbetter Law Firm works with clients throughout Southern California who have purchased lemons and assists them with obtaining the refund or replacement vehicle they deserve from the manufacturer. With offices conveniently located in Torrance and San Diego, California, telephone and video conferencing options are also available. Call (310) 878-0067 to schedule a consultation with a California Lemon Law attorney today.