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California Lemon Law & Presumption

It is a common misconception that consumers are only protected under California’s Lemon Law if the vehicle’s defect occurred within the first 18 months or first 18,000 miles of the vehicle’s original or extended warranty, issued by the manufacturer, the dealer, or in the form of a service contract. Consumers still qualify for protection throughout the entirety of their vehicle’s warranty period.. ‘Presumption’ is a special circumstance within the wider scope of California’s Lemon Law protection that states: If the vehicle’s defects came to light within the first 18 months or 18,000 miles (whichever came first), and the consumer made numerous repair attempts that did not resolve the defect, then presumption comes into play. In Lemon Law, presumption means that the dealer or manufacturer, not the consumer, must bear the burden of proof. In other words, normally the consumer would be responsible for proving that they were sold a lemon, but if the vehicle is still unfixable after numerous repair attempts—occurring within those first 18 months or 18,000 miles—then the manufacturer or dealer is now responsible to prove that they did not sell the consumer a lemon. If a vehicle meets the qualifications for presumption, then it is presumed that the consumer was sold a lemon unless the dealer or manufacturer can prove otherwise. This shifting of the burden of proof from the consumer to dealer/manufacturer offers some more protection for the consumer under California’s Lemon Law.

Even consumers that do not qualify for presumption are still protected by the law outside of that 18-month/18,000 mile period, as long as their vehicles were under warranty. Though those consumers do not qualify for presumption specifically, they are still entitled to protection under California’s Lemon Law, and may even be entitled to a refund or a vehicle replacement.

The safest option in establishing whether or not you qualify under presumption or for other Lemon Law protection and relief is to contact a member of our firm who can assist you with the details of your case. By calling (213) 282 – 2000, you can discuss the particulars of your situation with a professional who has all the tools to support you. You can also complete a FREE evaluation form online, to be reviewed by a member of our firm who will then reach out to you and explain your options.

Presumption & Repair Attempts

In order to qualify for Lemon Law protection, a consumer must have brought their vehicle in for authorized repair a reasonable amount of times so that the manufacturer, dealer, or authorized repair facility had a chance to repair the defect. If, after repeated attempts, the defect is still compromising the vehicle, then it can be presumed (under the legal presumption provision) that the consumer was sold a lemon and the manufacturer/dealer is now responsible to prove otherwise. However, it is important to note that the consumer is required to have brought their vehicle in for repair repeatedly, in order to give the manufacturer/dealer a reasonable amount of opportunities to fix the problem. But what qualifies as a reasonable amount of repair visits?

First, it is important to note that the consumer must take their defective vehicle in for repairs to a dealer/manufacturer authorized repair shop for any service the defective vehicle requires.

Second, the amount of repair visits required before a consumer can claim presumption is dependent on two things. Foremost required to claim presumption is that the defect and subsequent repair attempts had to occur within the first 18 months or 18,000 miles of the original or extended warranty or service contract. As for the amount of repair attempts required in order to qualify for presumption, California Lemon Law does not dictate a specific number of visits, but there is a helpful standard that assists consumers in determining how many repair visits qualify as reasonable:

  • two repair attempts, for a serious defect that is likely to cause death or serious harm
  • four repair attempts, for a defect that compromises a vehicle’s use, safety, or value
  • if the vehicle has spent a cumulative total of thirty days in repair, regardless of how many individual repair visits were made, then it also qualifies for Lemon Law protection
  • If a consumer qualifies for presumption, then they are able to benefit from the fact that the burden of proof has been shifted to the manufacturer/dealer that sold them a lemon. Many consumers are still eligible for Lemon Law protection even if their circumstances do not qualify for presumption. Many warranties last longer than the 18 months or 18,000 miles required for presumption qualification. Additionally, dealers and manufacturers often extend warranties far beyond the initial 18 months or 18,000 miles. No matter when it happened during your warranty, if you suffered from a defective vehicle, then you may qualify for Lemon Law protection.

    Because auto lemon law is complex and frequently updated, the simplest way to establish whether or not you have a legal case is to talk to a professional. Members of our firm work exclusively in Lemon Law and are best equipped to assist you in your path to justice. By calling (213) 282 – 2000, you can speak to a representative of our firm who can answer your questions and guide you towards your next step. You can also submit a FREE evaluation form, so that a member of our firm can review your case and contact you personally about your opportunity for legal action.


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    Lemon Law Auto Fraud serves the following California counties: Inyo, Imperial, Kern, Los Angeles, Mono, Orange, Riverside, San Bernardino, San Diego, San Luis Obispo, Santa Barbara, Tulare, and Ventura.

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    Disclaimer: The following Lemon Law and Auto Fraud information has been compiled from various public sources. It is presented online for informational use only, and without warranty as to its accuracy, timeliness, or completeness. This site does not replace any official versions of the information presented, nor does use of this information constitute an attorney-client relationship. It is always recommended that you do not make any decisions about any legal matter without first consulting an attorney to ensure that all of your rights are protected, as well as to find out if your vehicle meets the established Lemon Law or Auto Fraud Criteria for your state.