California Lemon Law News + Info

Can I use the Lemon Law if I purchased a demonstrator or a test-drive vehicle?

Buying a new vehicle is a significant investment. Those in the market for a vehicle may opt to save money by leasing a vehicle, buying a used or CPO vehicle, or buying an older model year. If you’re still vying for a new vehicle model for a slight discount, you might have considered purchasing a test-drive or demonstrator vehicle at your local dealership. People colloquially refer to these vehicles as “demo cars.”

If you purchased a demonstrator or test-drive vehicle, only to find that it has developed persistent problems, you may wonder if you are entitled to protection under the California Lemon Law. The short answer is: yes. The California Lemon Law considers test-drive or demonstrator vehicles to be considered new vehicles, and owners and lessees of new vehicles with persistent problems may be entitled to restitution.

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What does the California Lemon Law cover?

Generally, the California Lemon Law covers new or used vehicles that were bought or leased from an authorized dealership in California. The California Lemon Law defines a “new motor vehicle” as the following:

“‘New motor vehicle’ means a new motor vehicle that is bought or used primarily for personal, family, or household purposes.”

“‘New motor vehicle’ also means a new motor vehicle with a gross vehicle weight under 10,000 pounds that is bought or used primarily for business purposes by a person, including a partnership, limited liability company, corporation, association, or any other legal entity, to which not more than five motor vehicles are registered in this state.”

“‘New motor vehicle’ includes the chassis, chassis cab, and that portion of a motor home devoted to its propulsion, but does not include any portion designed, used, or maintained primarily for human habitation, a dealer-owned vehicle and a ‘demonstrator’ or other motor vehicle sold with a manufacturer’s new car warranty but does not include a motorcycle or a motor vehicle which is not registered under the Vehicle Code because it is to be operated or used exclusively off the highways.”

What vehicles are covered under the California Lemon Law?

A vehicle is considered defective under the California Lemon Law if it has a “nonconformity” that affects its use, value or safety, the nonconformity is covered by the auto manufacturer’s warranty, and the dealership or authorized repair facility could not repair the vehicle within a reasonable number of repair attempts.

How does the California Lemon Law define “demonstrator”?

The California Lemon Law defines a test-drive vehicle or “demonstrator” as the following:

“A demonstrator is a vehicle assigned by a dealer for the purpose of demonstrating qualities and characteristics common to vehicles of the same or similar model and type.”

Essentially, these demo vehicles have been driven by the dealership’s managers, salespeople, executives, or customers for test drives, but have never been registered with the state.

What do I do if I suspect my demo vehicle is a lemon?

If you purchased a demo vehicle and later suspected that it was a lemon, make sure that you keep records for every repair visit. These records should have the time and date of the visit, as well as the concerns you reported and the actions taken to address the issue. You should also gather other documents that may be needed for a potential lemon law claim, such as a lease agreement or sales contract, vehicle registration, or receipts for out-of-pocket expenses that resulted from your vehicle defect.

What can I get for my test-drive or demonstrator vehicle if it is a lemon?

If your vehicle is found to be defective under the California Lemon Law, you may be eligible to receive cash compensation, a replacement vehicle, or a full refund for the total amount paid toward your vehicle (minus a mileage-based offset).

Consult a California Lemon Law Attorney

Our lemon law firm offers free consultations to anyone who suspects that their vehicle may be defective. Should you decide to move forward with a lemon law claim, you will not have to pay any out-of-pocket costs for our lemon law assistance. Attorneys only get paid if you win. If you win your lemon law claim, the auto manufacturer pays the attorneys’ fees and costs.

If you’re not sure whether you want to consult with a lawyer, remember: initial consultations from lemon law firms should come at no cost to you. During the consultation, you may ask about your rights regarding the lemon law and the process of filing a lemon law claim.

To ask further questions about your lemon law rights, call us at 877-217-7676.

Lemon Law Help by Knight Law Group is an automotive lemon law firm that exclusively practices in California. If you are a California resident who purchased or leased a defective vehicle from a licensed dealership in California, we may be able to help you get rid of your potential lemon and recover significant cash compensation. Model year restrictions apply: 2017–Present vehicle models only.

However, we cannot help those who reside outside of California or purchased their vehicle outside of California unless they are active duty members of the Armed Forces, nor will we be able to refer those to a lemon law firm in their states.

To learn more about the California Lemon Law and your legal rights, visit our guides on the California Lemon Law and Used Car Lemon Law for more information.

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