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Lemon Law for Leased Vehicles 

Law Offices of Kevin Faulk Dec. 29, 2022

It has been estimated that as many as 150,000 new vehicles sold each year will turn out to be lemons, meaning that repeated repair attempts will fail to correct a defect in the vehicle. Across the nation, states have enacted lemon laws to protect individuals who acquire new vehicles, only to discover defects that keep the vehicle in the repair shop without a successful resolution. 

Lemon laws apply to purchases of new vehicles, but what about people who lease their new cars, trucks, or SUVs? In California, the lemon law itself may appear that it applies only to those who purchase a vehicle, but parallel laws come into play and extend the lemon protection to lessees as well. 

Securing a lemon replacement or refund is never a slam dunk. The manufacturer may try to force you to accept an arbitrator’s decision, which oftentimes can favor the manufacturer. If you’ve leased a vehicle in or around Sunnyvale, California, or anywhere in the state, and you need to explore and exercise your rights for a replacement or refund for a leased new vehicle, contact Law Offices of Kevin Faulk. Reach out to our lemon law attorney immediately to help you navigate the system and find a path forward. 

What Qualifies as a Lemon? 

A lemon vehicle must have a defect, such as glitches in the transmission or a malfunctioning infotainment system, which requires more than a reasonable number of repair attempts. California’s lemon laws cover new and certified pre-owned vehicles acquired under the manufacturer's warranty. 

According to the California Department of Consumer Affairs (DCA), the state’s lemon laws cover new vehicles acquired under warranty for personal use, including cars, vans, trucks, SUVs and motor homes; and dealer-owned vehicles and demonstrators. 

The laws also apply to vehicles purchased or leased by businesses for business use, but the vehicles must have a gross weight of fewer than 10,000 pounds, and the business is limited to five such acquisitions. 

California Lemon Laws 

California Civil Code Section 1793.2 seems to extend lemon protections only to buyers, stating: “In the case of replacement, the manufacturer shall replace the buyer's vehicle with a new motor vehicle substantially identical to the vehicle replaced.” 

However, California Civil Code Section 1795.4 extends protection to lessees as well: “The lessee of goods has the same rights under this chapter against the manufacturer and any person making express warranties that the lessee would have had under this chapter if the goods had been purchased by the lessee….” 

Proving You Have a Lemon Vehicle 

The general method for proving your vehicle is a lemon is through repeated repair attempts under the warranty. The DCA notes that there is no set number of repair attempts that need to be made before you can seek a lemon vehicle replacement or refund.  

Even one attempt, however, can be enough if the vehicle is in the repair shop for 30 days or more. If the vehicle’s defect could lead to serious bodily injury or death and the manufacturer or dealer has made at least two unsuccessful attempts to fix the problem, you can then proceed to request a replacement or refund as well. 

What Is Not Covered Under Lemon Law 

Generally speaking, California’s lemon laws apply only to what came with the vehicle when you leased it. Therefore, aftermarket products that you add on your own are not covered. Neither are any problems that you yourself cause through misuse or abuse, or from an accident you were involved in. 

Securing Your Rights for Replacement or Refund 

If you can show that your vehicle is a lemon and you’re the lessee, the manufacturer or dealer must either replace the vehicle or refund your lease payments plus legal fees.

Things can get complex and tricky, however. This is why, from the very beginning of a lemon law claim, you need to reach out to a qualified and experienced attorney who knows how the process works and can speed everything along, anticipating any “tricks” or delays that may be placed in your path. 

Get the Experienced Guidance You Need 

Nothing is worse that acquiring a new vehicle that soon develops or reveals a serious defect, which after repeated repair attempts, continues to haunt you and your driving experience. California’s lemon laws shield you from this type of situation by providing for replacement or refund if repair attempts continually fail. There are processes in place to obtain your replacement or refund, but the path may not always be straightforward or quick. You can increase your chances of a rapid resolution by relying on experienced legal guidance.  

Wherever you are in California, if you find yourself leasing a lemon, contact the lemon law attorney at Law Offices of Kevin Faulk. Reach out today, and let’s get the process started.