With few exceptions, the California Lemon Law only protects vehicles purchased in the state of California. Vehicles that are purchased out of state are excluded from the protection of the California Lemon Law.
The California Lemon Law comes with additional criteria: the vehicle must be bought or leased from a dealership authorized to operate in California, and the vehicle must have been purchased with a warranty issued by the auto manufacturer.
What if I bought my lemon vehicle out of state?
If you are a civilian and you purchased your vehicle outside of California, you would not qualify for a California lemon law claim. You may be covered by the federal lemon law, otherwise known as the Magnusson-Moss Warranty Act, but you would have to consult with an attorney on your specific situation. Each state has its own distinct lemon law, with California’s being one of the strongest state lemon laws in the country. That being said, California’s lemon law only provides one exception to its exclusion of vehicles purchased out of state.
What if I serve in the military?
California residents who purchased vehicles out of state may qualify for the California Lemon Law if they are active duty members of the U.S. Armed Forces. If you are an active duty member of a branch of the U.S. Armed Forces, purchased your vehicle from an authorized dealership in another state, and were subsequently stationed in California, your vehicle may be covered by California’s military lemon law.
The U.S. Armed Forces include the Army, Navy, Marine Corps, Air Force, National Guard, Coast Guard and Space Force. Full-time active duty also includes active military service at a military service school designed by law or the Adjutant General of the Military department concerned.
What’s the criteria for the California Lemon Law?
There are two components to determining if a vehicle falls under the realm of the California Lemon Law: if it is under the protection of the state lemon law, and if it meets the lemon law’s criteria for a defective vehicle.
The California Lemon Law covers new and used vehicles that are bought or leased in California from an authorized dealership. To be considered defective, the vehicle has to have a substantial defect that affects use, safety or value, and that defect was not fixed by an authorized dealership or repair facility within a reasonable number of attempts during the warranty period. The vehicle include question has to be registered for personal, family or household use. The vehicle can also be set aside for business use if the business has no more than five registered vehicles, each one under a curb weight of 10,000 pounds.
Vehicles purchased “as is,” from private sales, purchased after the warranty expired or vehicles with problems cause by abuse or lack of maintenance are not covered by the California Lemon Law.
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–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 California Lemon Law Guide for more information.