Sometimes, you might purchase a brand new vehicle, only for dangerous problems to show up six months later with seemingly no fix. Other times, you might purchased a used vehicle with some miles on it, and the going may be good for quite some time before an unfixable problem arises.
Either way, you might ask, “How old can a car be for lemon law to apply?” The answer is this: it’s not so straightforward. The age of the vehicle is not necessarily the determining factor. Instead, it relies on two key factors: the warranty, and the lemon law’s statute of limitations.
The California Lemon Law applies to new or used vehicles that were purchased with the manufacturer’s express warranty. A vehicle is considered a lemon when a problem covered by the warranty is not resolved within a reasonable number of repair attempts. The statute of limitations for a California Lemon Law claim is four years from when the vehicle defect was first discovered. This date is usually determined by the date of the first defect-related repair to occur during the warranty period.
A manufacturer’s warranty will last for a certain number of years or a certain number of miles, whichever comes first. The warranty may list different time or mileage limits, depending on the vehicle components. Some vehicles, for example, have a basic bumper-to-bumper warranty that lasts for three years or 36,000 miles, whichever comes first. If a problem occurs within this period, substantially impairs the use, safety or value of the vehicle, and is not resolved within a reasonable number of repair attempts, the owner or lessee of that vehicle is eligible to file a lemon law claim.
However, that vehicle owner or lessee has to file within four years from when the vehicle problem first appeared. This is typically determined by the first time the owner or lessee took the vehicle in for a warrantied repair due to the defect.
That being said, the age of the car may still play a role in a lemon law claim. It depends on the nature of the problem your vehicle has. The California Lemon Law does not cover problems that result from natural wear-and-tear of the vehicle over time (in spite of careful, scheduled maintenance).
If your vehicle has high mileage, that may affect how much you can get back for your lemon. According to the California Lemon Law, a vehicle’s average lifespan is 120,000 miles. That number, and the number of miles on your vehicle during your first repair, determine how much gets taken off your lemon law refund.
If you suspect that your vehicle is a lemon, call our lemon law firm for an initial consultation at 877-222-2222.
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: 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.