Prevailing Through Endurance

How many repairs are needed before a car is considered a lemon?

On Behalf of | Jun 28, 2024 | Lemon Law

Buying a new car should be an exciting experience, but when ongoing problems occur, it can quickly become frustrating. Lemon laws protect consumers from defective vehicles. Understanding how many repairs it takes for a car to be a lemon can help owners know their rights.

Understanding California lemon law

California’s lemon law, also known as the Song-Beverly Consumer Warranty Act, safeguards consumers who purchase or lease new vehicles. This law requires manufacturers to replace or refund a vehicle if it has significant defects that affect its use, value, or safety. Knowing the specifics of this law is important for all California car owners.

Repair attempts for serious defects

Under California lemon law, a car can be considered a lemon if the manufacturer cannot repair a defect after a reasonable number of attempts. Generally, if the car has a serious safety defect, such as problems with the brakes or steering, the manufacturer must repair it. If the same safety issue persists after two repair attempts, the car may be a lemon.

General defects and repair attempts

For non-safety-related defects, the lemon law typically allows the manufacturer four repair attempts. If the manufacturer cannot fix the problem after four tries, the car might qualify as a lemon. These defects must substantially impair the vehicle’s use, value, or safety.

Time and mileage limits

This lemon law also sets time and mileage limits. The defects must occur within the first 18 months of ownership or within 18,000 miles, whichever comes first. If the problems happen outside these limits, the vehicle might not qualify as a lemon.

Extended repair periods

In some cases, if a car spends too much time in the shop for repairs, it can qualify as a lemon. If the vehicle is out of service for more than 30 days for repairs within the first 18 months or 18,000 miles, it meets the lemon criteria. This rule helps protect consumers from losing valuable time and use of their vehicles.

Knowing your rights

Understanding California’s lemon law can help owners take action if their new car has persistent issues. If the car meets the criteria, owners may be entitled to a replacement vehicle or a refund. You must keep detailed records of repair attempts and communications with the dealer or manufacturer to support a claim.