San Diego Lemon Law

San Diego Lemon Law Attorney

As a consumer, you expect to receive a vehicle you and your family can rely on for running everyday errands, commuting to work, or taking road trips. It is unfair to be left with a vehicle you cannot feel safe in. Although basic maintenance and repairs are expected, taking your car in for ongoing issues is problematic.

Thankfully, California lemon laws are there to protect vehicle owners. And the lemon law attorneys at Wirtz Law APC are here to protect you. Not only have we recovered over $45 million for California consumers like you, but we can also use our years of experience practicing in the San Diego area to help tip the scales in your favor. We don't just know lemon law, we know the San Diego area, along with its judges and procedures. Just as every case is unique, every county is different, and we will put our knowledge of the judges, clerks and courts of San Diego to work for you.

California Lawyers Fight to Protect Consumers

Nothing is more aggravating than when you buy or lease a new or used vehicle, which turns out to be a lemon. A car may be a "lemon" if it is purchased or leased in California as new or used and if the dealership has made as little as two unsuccessful attempts to repair your car's defects under warranty.

The lemon law provides a remedy when a vehicle fails to meet basic reliability standards. Although California courts don't require vehicle owners to hire an attorney to bring a case forward, facing automobile manufacturers will be arduous. However, you don't have to do it alone. The experienced San Diego lemon law attorneys at Wirtz Law APC are here to help. We bring years of experience and have recovered over $45 million for California consumers like you.

What is California’s Lemon Law?

California’s Song-Beverly Consumer Warranty Act requires various warranties for consumer goods. New motor vehicles are just one item covered by the Song-Beverly Act.

The law applies when one or more defects in a vehicle cannot be fixed after a reasonable number of attempts. The rule applies to most new vehicles, as long as the repairs are attempted under a manufacturer's new car warranty. It applies to both purchased and leased vehicles.

It's essential that the repairs to the car are under the original manufacturer's express warranty. A vehicle must be under the original warranty or a certified pre-owned (CPO) warranty to be covered by California's lemon law.

A non-manufacturer’s extended warranty, also known as an extended service contract, does not apply. If the original manufacturer’s warranty has expired, a car owner will not be able to bring a lemon law claim for defects arising afterward, even if an extended warranty is in place.

Requirements for a lemon law case

At Wirtz Law, we will never voluntarily forfeit your constitutional right to a jury trial and will fight for your maximum recovery.

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.

What Must Automakers Do Under California's Lemon Law?

1) Try to repair the defect

When a vehicle has a defect, the first thing the automaker must do is try to repair the defect. A manufacturer has a duty to consumers to repair known defects. The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) tracks vehicle safety issues and recalls by providing a search box on its website where users can enter their VIN to learn more about vehicle recalls and other known problems.

2) Provide a refund or replacement

If a vehicle is a lemon, the manufacturer must take it back and give the consumer either a refund or a replacement vehicle. You do not have to accept a replacement. Drivers hold the power to choose a refund instead of a replacement. The refund amount is calculated by applying California’s lemon law formula.

Your refund can exceed the purchase price

California law allows the total refund amount to include more than just the vehicle's purchase price. The refund can also cover additional expenses such as taxes, financing, registration fees, and out-of-pocket expenses for related repairs. When you get a refund or a replacement, the manufacturer pays your attorney fees and costs. Our San Diego lemon law attorneys seek the best results for each unique claim.

Dealers in California may try to resell a lemon law buyback.

However, they must state on the vehicle’s title that the vehicle was repurchased under the lemon law. They must tell buyers they are selling the car "as is." If a dealership fails to tell a buyer that they are receiving a lemon vehicle, the buyer can choose to pursue a claim and learn more about their rights by speaking with an experienced Wirtz Law APC attorney.

How Do I Know if My Vehicle is a Lemon?

  • California vehicle purchase

    For California's lemon law to apply, the vehicle must be bought or leased from a California dealer.

  • Regular use

    To be covered by lemon law, the defect cannot be caused by "unauthorized or unreasonable use of the vehicle" once it is sold. However, defects that persist under regular vehicle use may fall under California's lemon law.

  • Persistence of defect

    The defect must persist beyond one repair attempt. The number of repair attempts that qualify as "reasonable" vary according to the problem.

Manufacturers are required to make a “reasonable” number of attempts to fix the vehicle under the warranty when asked. Courts and juries determine a reasonable number based on the facts of each case.

A persistent defect is likely to be covered by California lemon law if:

  • The manufacturer's new-vehicle warranty covers one or more defects;
  • The defect "substantially impairs" your the use, value or safety of the vehicle; and
  • The vehicle continues to have defects after a reasonable number of repair attempts.

How many repair attempts are enough?

In California, a reasonable number of attempts can be as few as two times, but the more attempts made to keep the vehicle defect free makes it more likely that your vehicle is a lemon.

In addition, a vehicle can qualify as a lemon if it has been in the repair shop for more than 30 days total. These 30 days may not need to occur all at once.

The following list contains examples of covered defects, but it is not exhaustive. If you do not see your particular issue listed, you may still have a case on your hands. The next best step is to speak with an experienced San Diego lemon law attorney to discuss your situation.

Typical Vehicle Defects include:

  • Airbag defects
  • Brake problems
  • Defective seat belts
  • Engine malfunctions
  • Electrical problems
  • Exhaust system defects
  • Faulty coolant systems or dashboard lights
  • Fuel system problems
  • Navigation malfunctions
  • Power equipment defects
  • Power steering issues
  • Suspension and transmission problems
  • Leaks of coolant, fluid, and oil

Lemon Law and Leased Vehicles

San Diego residents may lease vehicles because they find the benefits outweigh ownership. Some view a lease as an alternative means of financing the vehicle, with an option to just walk away from the vehicle after a few years. Common reasons for leasing a car include:

  • New vehicles may be seen as more reliable or trustworthy than used cars.
  • A lease typically includes easy access to the dealership’s services, including mechanics trained and certified by the manufacturer.

Like a purchased vehicle, a leased vehicle can be considered a lemon. California lemon laws can be applied when this happens to protect the purchaser.

Three key questions

When a vehicle is leased, three key questions apply in a lemon law case:

  • Did the vehicle have a defect or defects that substantially impaired the use, value or safety of the vehicle?
  • Did the person who leased the vehicle give the manufacturer a reasonable number of attempts to fix the problem?
  • Did the vehicle continue to have defects after a reasonable number of repair attempts?

If the answers to these questions are yes, your vehicle may be lemon and you may have a California lemon law claim.  Like vehicle owners, you can expect a refund or replacement vehicle if you win your lawsuit.

Leases and lemon law
Talk to one of our experienced San Diego lemon law attorneys. Your consultation is free!

When looking for a lemon law attorney to handle your San Diego case, look for a lawyer who answers your questions in a way you understand. Seek out attorneys with experience handling lemon law cases in your area. Our California team will be able to explain whether you have a claim and what they predict the possible outcomes might be. During your free consultation, you will receive additional information, and an attorney can help you decide if pursuing a lemon law case is the right choice for you.

A defective vehicle isn't merely frustrating - it is dangerous. It is dangerous to you as the driver, your passengers, and other drivers on the road. Vehicle defects are more than a mere inconvenience. Defects can raise the risks of putting yourself in danger.

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…

Read More


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…

Read More

What to Do If You Have a Lemon

Keep documentation

Every successful lemon law claim depends on evidence. Collect all the paperwork you have about your car’s purchase or lease and the efforts you and the dealership made to fix the problems with the vehicle. Records will help demonstrate how the manufacturer has made a reasonable number of attempts to repair a vehicle. They can also help you calculate how many days the car has been in the shop.

Records should include

Paperwork to keep for a potential lemon law claim includes:

  • A copy of the manufacturer's original warranty;
  • The vehicle's owner's manual;
  • Sales brochure; and
  • Service records showing the type of work performed and dates.
When to consider filing a lemon law claim

Lemon law cases can be resolved within a few months, but sometimes the automakers dig in their heels. Lemon law attorneys, including Wirtz Law APC, often work on contingency, which means you have no upfront costs to pay.

In California, vehicle owners are not required to go to arbitration to settle a lemon law claim. Arbitration is a less formal way to resolve a civil dispute, like a lemon law case, without the stress and expense of a trial. While many automakers encourage consumers to go through arbitration, studies indicate that arbitration is rarely the best choice for consumers.

At Wirtz Law APC, we will never voluntarily forfeit your constitutional right to a jury trial and an appeal and will fight for maximum recovery.

Arbitration in Lemon Law Claims

California’s lemon law requires an automaker to pay for a vehicle owner or leaser’s attorney’s fees, costs, and expenses if their case succeeds.

San Diego Lemon Law Frequently Asked Questions

Client Testimonials

Contact an Experienced San Diego Lemon Law Attorney To Discuss Next Steps

If you are looking for a California Lemon Law firm, look no further than Wirtz Law APC. If you are fed up, have had enough, and think your car is a lemon, call us at (858) 259-5009 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.

If your car, truck, hybrid, or SUV, or EV is experiencing substantial or repeated issues, you should speak with one of our San Diego lemon law attorneys at the Wirtz Law APC. Our firm focuses on helping 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. If you suspect that your vehicle qualifies as a lemon under the California lemon law, contact us today to schedule your free case evaluation and learn more about your legal options.

Contact Us Today

All of our consultations are free and there’s no obligation. Don’t hesitate to contact us.

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4370 La Jolla Village Drive, Suite 800
San Diego, CA 92122
Phone | (858) 259-5009

10866 Wilshire Blvd, Suite 1200
Los Angeles, CA 90024

Phone | (858) 259-5009

384 Forest Ave, Suite 17
Laguna Beach, CA 92651

Phone | (858) 259-5009