military lemon law

California’s Song Beverly Consumer Warranty Act offers rights and protections for people who lease or purchase defective vehicles, also known as lemons. California has one of the most consumer friendly lemon laws in our nation, and it is also home to one of the largest military populations in the United States with over 150,000 active-duty members of the U.S. Armed Forced stationed here.

On January 1, 2008, the California Lemon Law was amended to include additional protections for active-duty members of the U.S. Armed Forces. A full-time active-duty member of the United States Armed Forces may qualify for lemon law protection if:

  • The vehicle was purchased from an auto manufacturer that is authorized to sell motor vehicles in the state of California; and
  • The active-duty member was stationed in California either when the vehicle was purchased or when their lemon law claim was filed.

This means that active-duty members of the U.S. Armed Forces can benefit from the CA Lemon Law if

  • They purchased their vehicle out of state but are stationed in California; or
  • If they purchased their vehicle in California and are stationed outside of California

Prior to January 1, 2008, California’s lemon law protections applied solely to consumers who purchased or leased their lemon vehicles in the state. Now, if you are one of the over 150,000 military personnel stationed in California, you may be eligible to pursue a claim for a defective car that you have purchased or leased in another state. Also, military personnel elsewhere in the United States can benefit from the California Lemon Law if they purchased their vehicle in California. Keep in mind that all other criteria for a California Lemon Law claim must be fulfilled.

military lemon law california

How does a case qualify under the California Lemon Law?


A “lemon” is a defective vehicle that has been presented for repeat repairs for recurring problems, which affect the vehicle’s safety, use, or value. The problems with the vehicle must be covered by the vehicle’s manufacturer warranty.

The auto manufacturer or its authorized repair dealerships must be provided a reasonable number of repair attempts to address the problems during the warranty period. What is considered a reasonable number of repair attempts depends on the specifics of each case, and the nature and frequency of the problems of the vehicle.

The California Lemon Law is a consumer statute and covers vehicles that are purchased or leased for personal, family or household use. However, it also applies to vehicles purchased for business use if the business has 5 or less vehicles and the vehicle weighs less than 10,000 pounds.

If someone has a “lemon,” the auto manufacturer has an affirmative obligation to repurchase or replace the defective vehicle.

person writing on paper

How does a case qualify under the Military Lemon Law in California?


To qualify under the military exception to the California Lemon Law, you must be a full-time active-duty member in one of the branches of the U.S. Armed Forces and stationed in California either at the time the vehicle was purchased, or when the lemon law claim was filed.

Members of the U.S. Armed Forces include the:

  • Army
  • Air Force
  • Coast Guard
  • Marine Corps
  • Navy
  • National Guard
  • Space Force; and

Active military service at a military school authorized by law or by the Adjutant General of the Military Department is also considered full-time active duty under the California Military Lemon Law codified in the state’s Song-Beverly Consumer Warranty Act.

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What are the remedies under the California Lemon Law?


If a vehicle is deemed to be a “lemon,” one could qualify for a refund, replacement, or cash compensation. A lemon law refund consists of the reimbursement of all monies spent on the lemon vehicle, including the down payment, monthly payments, taxes, incidental expenses related to the lemon such as rental or tow car expenses, and the loan balance payoff (if any). As a prevailing party, the auto manufacturer is obligated to pay for your attorneys’ fees and costs.

To know with certainty if you qualify for California lemon law protection as a Member of the U.S. Armed Forces, you should consult with a reputable lemon law attorney. Filing a lemon law claim without legal help can be challenging. A lemon law attorney can assist you in building the strongest case possible against the auto manufacturer to ensure that you get just compensation.

If you are a full-time active-duty member of the U.S. Armed Forces and have a question about your vehicle, we ‘d be delighted to speak with you. The Lemon Law Experts have assisted thousands of consumers across California in recovering millions for their lemon law claims. Give us a call at 877-885-5366 or fill out an online form on our website. Our team is more than happy to review your case. We have a no recovery, no fee policy and our consultation does not cost you anything. Contact us today to find out if you qualify under the California Lemon Law.