California leads the country in consumer protection litigation, and its lemon law and the Song-Beverly Consumer Warranty Act are there to help car owners who think that their vehicle was defective.
The 1970 statute allows for a presumption of a car being considered a lemon if, after 18,000 miles or a year and a half of ownership, even if they were not the first owner:
1) Two repairs have failed to remedy a life-threatening defect;
2) Four repairs have been made on any part covered by the warranty;
3) For 30 days, not necessarily in a row, the car has been unusable by the driver
While the consumer is still responsible for notifying the manufacture, this is often covered by having the repair work done at the dealership.
What Issues Can Arise
The manufacturer can dispute the lemon classification by arguing that the problems are minor or don’t substantially impact the value of your car, truck or SUV. In addition, most manufacturers participate in the Department of Consumer Affairs-certified arbitration program. The arbitrators are not state employees, but they do follow guidelines. You must participate in a hearing before you can pursue legal remedies, although you can also accept the arbitrator’s decision if it seems reasonable.