Is Your New Car a Lemon?

If you have had recurring problems with your vehicle that began during the original manufacturer’s warranty, your car may be a lemon.

In California, a vehicle is considered a lemon if it exhibits defects that substantially impair its use, value or safety that the manufacturer (or its authorized dealership) could not fix after a reasonable number of attempts. A vehicle can also be a lemon if it is out of service for warranty repairs for an excessive amount of time. While there is no magic number as to how many repair visits are sufficient to establish a California lemon law claim, depending on the nature of the defect, a vehicle can be a lemon in as little as two visits.

There are many different types of defects that can be considered substantial. Any safety related defect will automatically be considered substantial. One of the most substantial types of defects is one that causes the vehicle to stall on the freeway. In addition, any type of defect that affects the drivability of the vehicle will be considered substantial. For example, a hesitation when accelerating impacts the driver’s ability to properly control the vehicle and would therefore be considered substantial. Drivability defects typically involve the vehicle’s major components such as the engine, transmission and related systems.

Many other defects can be considered substantial as well. In fact, a failure in almost any component or system in the vehicle can rise to the level of substantial impairment. These include, but are not limited to, defects in the windows, sunroofs, doors, trunk, air conditioning, navigation, radio and many more. Simply stated, if a defect is more than a minor nuisance, it could be substantial for purposes of the California lemon law.