Woman filing lemon lawsuit

How Long Do I Have to File a Lemon Law Lawsuit?

For many people, buying a vehicle is one of the biggest investments they will make. When you’re spending more money than you do on just about anything else, you want to make sure you’re protected if your new vehicle turns out to be a dreaded lemon.

Fortunately, California has laws in place to protect consumers. The California Lemon Law is designed to protect you in case the vehicle you buy turns out to be defective and unable to be repaired after a reasonable number of attempts. 

But how long after buying a vehicle are you protected by the California Lemon Law? Is there a statute of limitations? In this blog post, we’ll tackle these questions and more. When you’re done reading, you’ll have a foundational understanding of your rights under this law. 

What is the California Lemon Law?

The California Lemon Law has long been established as the standard for consumer protection in our state. Essentially, the law says that anyone who buys or leases a  vehicle in California should not have to pay for repairs or replacements when a defect or defects affect the use, value, or safety of that vehicle. 

This law even goes so far as to protect full-time active-duty members of the Armed Forces stationed in California. Even if they purchased or registered their vehicle outside the state, they are protected.

According to the California Lemon Law, the manufacturer has an opportunity to make a “reasonable” number of attempts at repair. If the problem cannot be taken care of in a reasonable number of repair attempts, which can be as few as two, the manufacturer is required to buy back or replace the vehicle.

Of course, there are a few actions that can void your rights under the Lemon Law. If you use your vehicle in an unauthorized or unreasonable way, the manufacturer may not be liable for the repairs.

How many repair attempts are a “reasonable” number?

The answer to this question depends largely on the situation and the vehicle. At the very least, the manufacturer is allowed two attempts at repairing the vehicle before they must offer a refund or replacement. If you believe that your vehicle has been subjected to an unreasonable number of repairs, it may be time to call an attorney.

What is the statute of limitations for the Lemon Law?

For a vehicle to qualify under the Lemon Law, you must file a lawsuit within 4 years of your claim accruing, which means the time you could have known you had a claim. Generally, since repairs can still be made under the warranty, the statute of limitations shouldn’t start to run on your claim until the warranty expires.  Typically, you get 4 years to file your lawsuit after the warranty expires if you are still repairing your car through the end of the warranty.

After that time frame is up, you have surpassed the statute of limitations and are no longer entitled to legal action. That’s why it’s wise to contact an attorney early on in the proceedings. That way, you don’t run the risk of missing your deadline.

What should I do if a manufacturer won’t repair or replace my vehicle?

If you notice a defect that you believe qualifies under the Lemon Law, your first course of action should be to contact the dealership or manufacturer from which you purchased the vehicle. Should the manufacturer refuse to repair the defect or replace the vehicle, you must contact an attorney. It may be time to pursue a claim. 

Of course, you’re not legally obligated to hire an attorney. But doing so gives you access to resources and guidance you wouldn’t otherwise have. An attorney from Wirtz Law APC can help you gather evidence, share that evidence, and pursue a fair settlement, or fight the automaker through trial.

For more information call the experienced trial attorneys at (833) 4MY-LEMON for a free case evaluation.

The information provided in this post is for informational and educational purposes only regarding aspects of the California Lemon Law.  It is intended for California Consumers only.  This post is considered an advertisement by attorney Richard M. Wirtz and Wirtz Law APC. You should not rely on any of the information provided in this advertisement and no legal advice is given by the advertisement. No attorney-client relationship is established by viewing this advertisement. A written signed engagement agreement between you and Wirtz Law APC is required to create an attorney-client relationship. You should immediately consult an attorney which is experienced in California Lemon Law. Attorney Richard M. Wirtz is responsible for the content of this post.  Prior results do not guarantee a similar outcome.