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California’s Song-Beverly Warranty Act – The “Lemon-Law”

The Lemon-Law (California Civil Code § 1790 et seq.) protects purchasers of vehicles that are under some sort of warranty. When the vehicle requires repeated repairs, the Lemon-law offer a dispute resolution mechanism.

Many of the Lemon-Law’s provisions apply only to new vehicles, while other provisions apply to used cars, trucks, motorcycles, mobile homes and other vehicles and help to ensure that the consumer gets a vehicle suitable for its intended purpose.


Under the meaning of the Lemon-Law, a “new” car is one that is covered by the original warranty. If a dealer sells a 4 year-old car that came with a 5 year warranty, it would be considered a “new” vehicle within the meaning of the law.

The “new” vehicle provisions of the Lemon-Law do not apply to motorcycles or dedicated off-road vehicles.

Refund or Replacement After “Reasonable Number” of Repair Attempts

The Lemon-Law requires the manufacturer or dealer to replace the vehicle or refund the purchase price (although not all of it) when repeated repair attempts are unsuccessful.

State-Certified Arbitration Programs

The Lemon-Law requires that the vehicle purchaser submit to arbitration if the vehicle manufacturer participates in its arbitration program (not all manufacturers do).


Many of the Lemon-Law’s protections apply exclusively to vehicles that are “new” within the meaning of the law, but vehicles that are not “new” also enjoy warranty protection and must be fit for their intended purpose.