Orange County Lemon Law

Orange County Lemon Law Attorney

Problem Vehicle? Our Orange County Lemon Lawyers Will Fight For You

Millions of Orange County residents, visitors, and workers rely on personal and business vehicles to travel daily. Because cars play a vital role in a person's daily life, automakers must provide safe and reliable vehicles.

When you buy a new or certified pre-owned (CPO) vehicle, you expect it to be safe and reliable for regular use. Vehicle defects dash these hopes. Instead of finally finding a desirable car or truck, you encounter constant car issues and will have a more severe problem on your hands. If a vehicle owner doesn't get their vehicle fixed quickly, the well-being and safety of car passengers are at high risk. These defective and often dangerous vehicles are known as "lemons." Talk to the experienced Orange County lemon lawyers at Wirtz Law APC today if you believe you have a lemon on your hands.

Most Common Lemon Vehicles in Orange County

From 2018 to 2021, over 7 million new vehicles were registered in California. Most of these vehicles didn’t become the subject of lemon law claims. However, Lemons that ended up in drivers’ hands tended to come from a specific list of automakers.

The highest rates of lemon vehicles between 2018 and 2021 came from just five automakers:

Among these automakers, the rate of lemon law cases was often high. General Motors, for example, saw one lemon law case for every 78 vehicles it sold in California between 2018 and 2021.

Manufacturers with the most California lemon law claims

Although over 7 million California vehicles were registered in recent years, judges heard only about 34,000 lemon law claims in the state’s courts. In other words, less than 0.5 percent of all new vehicle purchases resulted in a lemon lawsuit.

Are Some Vehicles More Reliable?

Several of these automakers produce vehicles that appear on Consumer Reports’ list of most reliable cars. Consumer Reports gave the 2022 Ford Explorer a reliability score of 8/100, for instance. While not all unreliable vehicles are lemons, all lemons are unreliable, spending many days in the shop and threatening drivers’ safety and peace of mind with problematic or even dangerous defects.

At the other end of the scale are automakers who saw fewer lemon law claims. Toyota Motor Sales, for example, received only one lemon law claim per 2,209 vehicles sold in California between 2018 and 2021. Mazda Motor of America received one lemon law claim per 1,571 vehicles sold in the same period.

Worldwide, Toyota continues to lead in reliable vehicles. An AutoGuide Group study found that Toyota had just one lemon claim per 11.6 million vehicles purchased in North America in 2015. HondaMercedesBMW, and Buick rounded out the top five. Meanwhile, automakers FiatCadillac, and Porsche received much higher rates of lemon claims.

Not all lemon law claims go to trial. Most claims are resolved out of court through settlements. Some go through arbitration, which is often unfairly weighted in favor of automakers. Unfortunately, many lemon owners sell their vehicles back to dealerships for a significant loss or give up.

How Do I Know if My Vehicle is a Lemon?

California lemon law defines which vehicles are considered “lemons” covered by the law’s terms. California lemon law applies to:

  • New vehicles purchased or leased with a manufacturer’s warranty
  • Certified pre-owned (CPO) vehicles covered by a CPO warranty
  • Cars bought or leased for personal, family, or household use
  • Cars are purchased or leased by certain small businesses.

Nearly all types of passenger vehicles, such as cars, pickup trucks, EVs, and SUVs, are covered by California’s lemon law. The lemon law also covers some aspects of a motor home, such as the drivetrain and chassis. Lemon law even applies to dealer-owned vehicles, including demonstrator vehicles used for test drives.

Small business vehicles are covered by lemon law if the business owns five or fewer cars, including the lemon, and if the lemon vehicle has a gross vehicle weight (GVW) under 10,000 pounds.

Vehicles covered by Califorina Lemon Law

Which Vehicles Are Not Covered By California Lemon Law?

California lemon law covers a wide range of vehicles purchased or leased at retail. The law does not, however, cover every defective vehicle in use on California’s roads today.

In these instances, the vehicle owner cannot seek compensation from the automaker under the lemon law. Other avenues of compensation may still be available, however.

For example, if a defect is caused by an add-on or an aftermarket component and damages other vehicle parts, you may have a claim against the manufacturer, distributor, or installer of the add-on or aftermarket components.

Vehicles that are not covered by California’s lemon laws include:

  • Vehicles that are not covered by the manufacturer’s original warranty or a certified pre-owned warranty. 

  • Vehicles purchased in private sales.

  • Vehicle issues resulted from non-ordinary use or abuse of the vehicle.

  • Vehicles whose issues are in add-on or aftermarket components.

How Do I Choose the Right Lemon Lawyer?

An experienced lawyer will pursue all the damages you are owed, not merely a replacement or refund for your vehicle.

The attorney considers all your losses, not just the vehicle’s value.

California law allows lemon owners to choose between receiving a replacement vehicle or a refund for the car. The refund or “buyback” amount is calculated using a formula in California’s lemon law.

California lemon law also allows vehicle owners to recover certain other expenses related to the lemon vehicle. These include attorney’s fees and “incidental and consequential damages,” or losses you wouldn’t have had if your car had worked as intended. You may also be entitled to civil penalties if you can prove the automaker willfully failed to comply with California’s lemon law.

The attorney does not charge a fee upfront.

California lemon law requires automakers to pay attorney’s fees when a vehicle owner proves the automaker sold them a lemon. Experienced California lemon lawyers look for strong cases because they know that the automaker will pay their fees and costs when they win.

These attorneys often work on a contingency basis. When they win, the automaker pays them. If they lose, they don’t receive payment from the automaker or their client. A contingency fee arrangement incentivizes experienced lemon lawyers to do their job well – and for vehicle owners to get the professional representation they deserve.

Your Attorney Should Be Willing to Fight in Court

To reduce their exposure to lemon law claims, automakers have poured considerable resources into creating an arbitration system for these cases. Arbitration is a form of dispute resolution that typically involves less time and expense than a courtroom trial.

Arbitration can be valuable for some types of legal claims. However, lemon law arbitration in California rarely provides the right results for auto owners. Instead, these arbitration results tend to be skewed in favor of automakers, even when the auto owner has a valid claim under state law.

Experienced California lemon lawyers understand how arbitration may undermine your case. These attorneys rarely, if ever, push their clients to consider arbitration. Instead, they seek to resolve the matter through negotiation. If they cannot settle, an experienced California lemon law firm won’t hesitate to take an automaker to trial. Experienced attorneys will do what it takes to fight for the justice you deserve.

If You Think Your Purchased Vehicle May Be a Lemon
How to protect your interests in a lemon law case

If your vehicle has a dangerous defect, put your safety first. Don’t drive or ride in the car. Choose alternate forms of transportation to protect yourself and your loved ones.

If your vehicle has a defect or defects that substantially impair the use, value, or safety of the vehicle, you may have a lemon. If you have had the vehicle repaired two or more times during warranty, but the automaker cannot keep the vehicle free from defects, you may have a lemon.

As soon as possible, talk to an experienced Orange County lemon lawyer. An attorney can help you understand how the law applies to your situation. An experienced lawyer will answer your questions and explain why they believe you do or don’t have a valid claim.

Save paperwork related to your vehicle, including your purchase agreement, vehicle’s manual, copies of your warranty, and paperwork from repair attempts. This information can be precious as your attorney builds your lemon law claim. If you do not have all the paperwork, do not worry. Our experienced Orange County team will be able to help you gather all required documentation during the litigation process.

California’s lemon law protects vehicle owners when their newly purchased or leased vehicle has a dangerous or persistent defect. Lemon car owners may seek a replacement vehicle, a refund, and other compensation for their losses.

A History of Results

Wirtz Law has successfully obtained recoveries for our clients in excess of $45 million.


Our client, the plaintiff, purchased a brand new 2014 Focus for $40,007, including add-ons and financing. Within three days, the transmission began to slip and…

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Our client, Sam P. purchased a new 2010 BMW X5, as a premium luxury SUV to enjoy in his retirement and to use for safe…

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Matthew J. and Marisa J. bought a used 2011 Dodge Durango to be their primary family vehicle, to be used to drive to and from…

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Orange County Lemon Law Frequently Asked Questions

Client Testimonials

Contact an Experienced Orange County Lemon Law Attorney To Discuss Next Steps

If your truck, car, hybrid, EV, or SUV is experiencing substantial or repeated issues, you should speak with one of our Orange County lemon law attorneys at the Wirtz Law APC. Our firm focuses on helping Southern California consumers get the compensation they deserve after purchasing a lemon. Our team has a well-earned and well-deserved reputation as motor vehicle consumer advocates. Our Orange County lemon law team has a proven track record. We fight for our clients so that they receive the compensation they deserve. Contact us today to schedule your free case evaluation and learn more about your legal options.

If you are looking for an Orange County Lemon Law firm, look no further than Wirtz Law APC. If you have had enough, are fed up, and think your car is a lemon, call us at (858) 879-3557 for a free no obligation evaluation. If your vehicle is a lemon, we will take your case at no charge to you on a contingency fee basis. Wirtz Law APC provides one of the best Lemon Law attorney services everywhere in California, including Southern California, Northern California, Central California, and Eastern California.

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San Diego, CA 92122
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