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How does California's Lemon Law work?

Buying a car should be an exciting event. Many of us only buy a new car a few times in our lives, and finding the right vehicle is a huge investment. So it is disheartening when the car has a major malfunction shortly after you drive it off the dealership’s lot.

In the past, buyers were often left with a junk car, with the dealership and manufacturer claiming zero responsibility to fix or replace the defective parts. Today, California consumers can take action against unscrupulous dealers through the Song-Beverly Consumer Warranty Act.

This state law, also known as the Lemon Law, gives help to people who bought a new vehicle that cannot be fixed. If a vehicle is under warranty but cannot be repaired after a “reasonable number” of attempts, the manufacturer must promptly replace it or give the buyer or lessee a full refund.

Not all vehicles are revealed to be lemons within the first few months that you own them. The Lemon Law protects consumers through the entire term of the warranty. So, if your warranty lasts for three years, and the car breaks down two years and six months into the warranty, the Lemon Law applies.

One-time lemons happen, but often the defect is widespread due to problems with the automaker’s manufacturing or design of that model of vehicle. Car companies are big and powerful, but if a group of wronged buyers band together as a class and file suit, the company may have to sit up and pay attention.

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