What protections do consumers have against lemon cars?

California's Lemon Law, officially known as the Song-Beverly Act, provides protection for consumers who purchase certain vehicles. If those cars, trucks, RVs, motorcycles and other motorized vehicles continually have issues and can't be repaired in a reasonable number of trips to the mechanic, you might need to invoke your rights under this law.

Some individuals in this state might not understand what the law means for consumers. Read up on at least the basics of the law so that you know when you need to take action over a problematic vehicle.

What vehicles qualify for coverage under the Lemon Law?

The vehicle must be purchased new with a manufacturer's warranty. The exception is if a vehicle is purchased used, such as a demonstrator, and still has a manufacturer's new car warranty on it. The vehicle must be used for personal use. If it is used for business, it must weigh under 10,000 pounds and the company or owner can't have more than five vehicles registered in the state. In the case of a motor home, the living portion isn't covered by this law. The propulsion portions, chassis and chassis cab are the sections that are covered.

When does the Lemon Law go into effect?

The Lemon Law takes effect the second the consumer takes possession of the vehicle. It is in effect for up to 18,000 miles or 18 months, whichever comes first. Within this time, the vehicle must have four or more attempts to correct the same issue if it isn't a critical safety component. If the problem can lead to serious bodily injury or death, only two unsuccessful repair attempts have to be made. Regardless of the number of repair attempts, the law applies if the vehicle is out of service for a repair for longer than 30 days, but those days don't have to be consecutive.

What can happen under the Lemon Law?

The Lemon Law allows you to get a refund on the vehicle or to receive a replacement vehicle. Some individuals are able to work directly with the dealer, but others will need to use mediation or arbitration. Many factors, including discounts due to high mileage or damage to the vehicle, determine how these cases are settled. If you are dealing with a lemon vehicle, learn about what rights, protections, responsibilities and options you have under the law.

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