The California Lemon Law, referred to by its official name as the Song-Beverly Consumer Warranty Act (“SB&B”) and the Tanner Consumer Protection Act (“TCPA”), is an affirmative act on behalf of vehicle owners. It provides a set of consumer protections for the purchase or lease of any new motor vehicle in California. The law applies to vehicles purchased or leased on or after January 1, 2003. It protects consumers from receiving defective vehicles that are not repaired when presented for warranty repairs under covered terms and conditions.
California consumers who have purchased a new motor vehicle, in which they have become aware of an unrepaired known defect, may have a legal claim for compensation. However, many consumers are unaware that the Lemon Law applies to them. Once they learn of the Lemon Law’s protections, consumers should consult an experienced attorney for guidance about their rights and options.
The Lemon Law applies to all new motor vehicles, motorcycles, mopeds and off-highway vehicles defined as a “consumer product” under California law. The term “motor vehicle” includes passenger cars, trucks, vans, motor homes and special purpose vehicles such as ambulances and hearses. It does not apply to other types of motor vehicles such as motorcycles, recreational off-highway vehicles (e.g., dirt bikes) or mopeds.
The Lemon Law covers private passenger vehicles, leased motor vehicles and motorcycles, as well as motor homes. Motor homes are subject to a special set of rules that apply primarily to manufacturers and leasing companies.
LICENSED DEALER FEDERAL
The Lemon Law applies to transactions between licensed California dealers and their consumers. In California, the term “dealer” means a person who sells new motor vehicles under a license issued under the Vehicle Code (i.e., the Manufacturers’ and Dealers’ Sales and Use tax). A dealer usually is also engaged in business in connection with sales of services or accessories for motor vehicles. However, a licensed employer (e.g. corporation, partnership, or sole proprietorship) that purchases a motor vehicle for use in its operations and sells it is not considered a dealer under the Lemon Law.
The Lemon Law applies only to California transactions between consumers and licensed dealers. It does not apply to transactions between licensed California dealers and out-of-state dealers.
This means that California consumers can legally buy new motor vehicles from businesses located in other states—even if they are not licensed as dealers in those states and those families may have a right under the Lemon Law to have the dealer fix any defects related to the vehicle’s mechanical condition or safety features.