California’s Lemon Law protects you when your leased new or used car cannot be repaired within a reasonable number of repair attempts.
It doesn’t just cover leased cars; it also covers leased trucks, vans, SUVs and other motor vehicles from a licensed dealership in California.
If your leased car has recurring problems that seemingly can’t be fixed, your leased car may be a lemon. The California Lemon Law protects leased vehicles the same way it protects vehicles that were purchased by California residents.
1. How Does Leased Car Lemon Law Work in California?
If you leased your car from an authorized dealership in California, and that leased car comes with an active warranty from the manufacturer, your leased car is protected under the California Lemon Law.
California Civil Code § 1795.4 states that leased new and used vehicles benefit from the same lemon law protections as vehicles that were bought outright.
- If express warranties are regularly furnished to purchasers of substantially the same kind of goods, (1) those warranties will be deemed to apply to the leased goods and (2) the lessor and lessee shall each be deemed to be the first purchaser of the goods for the purpose of any warranty provision limiting warranty benefits to the original purchaser.
- The lessee of goods has the same rights under this chapter against the manufacturer and any person making express warranties that the lessee would have had under this chapter if the goods had been purchased by the lessee and the manufacturer and any person making express warranties have the same duties and obligations under this chapter with respect to the goods that such manufacturer and other person would have had under this chapter if the goods had been sold to the lessee.
The California Lemon Law defines a “lease” as a contract for the lease or bailment of a consumer good for an individual for a term lasting longer than four months, and that good is set aside primarily for personal, family or household purposes. The one who leases the car is a “lessee,” and the one who offers the car for lease is the “lessor.”
Leased cars set aside for business may fall under lemon law protection if the business has no more than five vehicles, each under a curb weight of 10,000 pounds.
2. Does My Leased Car Qualify Under California Lemon Law?
The lemon law criteria for leased cars is nearly identical to the criteria for cars bought outright. The California Lemon Law states that your leased car may be a lemon if it has a recurring problem that affects its use, value or safety, and you gave the manufacturer or its dealerships a reasonable number of chances to repair the leased car during the warranty period.
However, the Tanner Consumer Protection Act offers a rough benchmark. Your leased car may be presumed to be a lemon if, within 18 months or 18,000 miles, whichever comes first:
- A defect that could cause serious injury or death was not fixed within two repair attempts,
- A defect that affects use, value or safety was not fixed within four repair attempts; or,
- A defect resulted in the car being held in the repair shop or dealership for more than thirty cumulative days.
The legal presumptions only take place if, prior to the lemon law claim, you proceeded with arbitration and received an unfavorable outcome. Even if the issue arises after 18 months or 18,000 miles, or has fewer than the aforementioned number of repair attempts, your leased car may still be a lemon. Presumptions simply shift the burden of proof onto the auto manufacturer during a lemon law case.
3. What If I Suspect That My Leased Car Is A Lemon?
If you have not yet taken your leased car in for repairs, start doing so. Keep all documents that you receive at the end of each repair visit. These documents, called “repair orders,” will show that you have given the dealership the chance to fix your leased car. These repair orders will also document how long your leased lemon was in the repair shop, what repairs were performed on the car, and what concerns you reported to the dealership during the repair visit.
Consult with a lemon law attorney about your leased car’s recurring problems. Our lemon law office offers free consultations at our 24/7 line: 877-222-2222.
4. What Can I Get For My Leased Lemon Car?
Under the California Lemon Law, you may get a refund or a replacement for your defective leased car. A refund for your leased lemon may include (but is not limited to) your down payment or lease inception fee, other fees related to acquiring your vehicle, monthly payments you’ve made on your leased car, and certain expenses related to the vehicle defect. The amount you may get for your lemon is determined on a case-by-case basis.
If you are still making monthly payments on your vehicle when you decide to retain a lemon law attorney, do not stop making monthly payments until the settlement is finalized. You do not want to be on the hook for extra payments.
Contact a California Lemon Law Attorney
Retaining a California lemon law attorney is key to preserving your lemon law rights. Choosing a California lemon law attorney will make the difference between getting what you deserve for your lemon, versus getting less than what your lemon case is actually worth. Our lemon law firm has achieved record-breaking records in California lemon law cases, with multi-million dollar trial verdicts in 2017 and 2018. Of course, each lemon law case is different, and results are highly variable.
The first step to any lemon law case, leased car or otherwise, is to request an initial consultation with a lemon law firm. Our lemon law office offers free consultations at our 24/7 line: 877-222-2222. To turn more about the lemon law process, read our guide.
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: 2016 or newer 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 California Lemon Law Guide for more information.