In California, the deadline to file a California lemon law claim is 4 years. The four year deadline is absolute and cannot be extended under any circumstances. Even if a consumer did not have any knowledge of the four year deadline and filed a claim after it expired, the claim would fail. For this reason it is critical not to waste any time if you suspect that your vehicle may be a lemon.
Big car manufacturers have a reputation of fighting hard against California lemon law claims. They employ armies of lawyers who understand the California lemon law inside and out. If the manufacturer even slightly suspects that it has a defense to a particular lemon law claim, it will do everything in its power to pursue that defense and deny the consumer her lemon law claim.
Many defenses to California lemon law claims are open to interpretation and are not absolute. This is not the case for the statute of limitations defense. If it is clear on the face of the lemon law claim that the case was initiated after the four year deadline expired, the claim will be dismissed leaving the consumer stuck with the lemon and without any remedy.
It is never a good idea for a consumer who suspects that her vehicle is a lemon to not take action. To establish a successful California lemon law claim, a consumer must prove that her vehicle had a defect covered by the warranty that substantially impaired its use, value or safety and could not be repaired after a reasonable number of attempts. Establishing that a defect is “substantially” impairing is a critical component of every lemon law claim. Aside from the hard four year deadline to file the claim, a consumer risks losing a case to an argument that the vehicle’s defects were not substantial because she did not timely take any action.