Legally reviewed by: Jessica Anvar Stotz, JD, MBA

lemon law los angeles

Short answer: No, there is no Lemon Law applying only to Los Angeles. The Lemon Law in California applies to the entire state, not to any particular city or region.

Clearing Up the Confusion

In California, the lemon law is a state-wide law that is equally applicable anywhere in the state. That means it applies everywhere from the northernmost tip of the state near Oregon down to the southern border with Mexico. As long as your vehicle was purchased or leased in California state lines, the California lemon law applies to it.

How the Lemon Law Works in California

ca lemon law

The most basic component of a lemon law claim in California is a defect that is substantial. A substantial defect is one that significantly impairs the value, safety, or usability of the vehicle. When a consumer discovers such a defect in their vehicle, the next step is to present the vehicle to an authorized manufacturer dealership to attempt a repair.

Documenting these repairs is crucial because in California, a vehicle will be presumed to be a lemon if it has four unsuccessful repairs for the same issue, or two unsuccessful repairs for an issue that can cause injury or death.

These repairs must occur within the first 18 months of ownership or the first 18,000 miles for the presumption to be valid. Please note that the lemon law presumption is not required to have a valid lemon law claim. Even without this presumption, documenting repairs ensures your lemon law claim is as strong as it can be.

After a vehicle is determined to be a lemon, the consumer is entitled to either a replacement vehicle or a refund. If they receive a replacement vehicle, the new vehicle will be of a similar make and model as the old one.

Often, but not always, this will be a current year vehicle. The remaining balance on the loan of the defective vehicle will be transferred, as will the term of the loan. The consumer will be responsible for any difference in price between the two vehicles and the usage fee, if any.

If the consumer receives a refund, the manufacturer of the defective vehicle will reimburse all monies spent on the vehicle including the down payments, monthly payments, current registration fees, sales taxes, incidental expenses related to the lemon, and any interest paid. The remaining balance on the loan or lease will also be paid off.

Should a car’s issues not be severe enough to qualify it as a “lemon,” the consumer still might be eligible to receive compensation for the diminished value caused by the issues.

The manufacturer may offer a “cash and keep” settlement under these circumstances. This is where the consumer keeps the vehicle and receives compensation for the issues they experienced with it. The remainder of the warranty remains in effect.

The California Department of Consumer Affairs website has more information about bringing a lemon law claim specifically in California.

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    The Active Military Exception to the CA Lemon Law

    California lemon law’s applicability has a military exception that consumers who are full-time active-duty members of the U.S. Armed Forces should be aware of.

    This exception states that if the member of the U.S. Armed Forces purchases a vehicle from a manufacturer authorized to sell in California, they can pursue a lemon law claim if they were stationed in California at the time the vehicle was purchased.

    For example, a car authorized to be sold in California is purchased by a full-time active service member while he is stationed in California. A year later, he moves to Texas and begins experiencing problems with his vehicle.

    If he pursues a lemon law claim, he can do so in California because the vehicle was purchased there while he was stationed there. Alternatively, an active service member who purchases a vehicle in Texas which is authorized to be sold in California, and who is later stationed in California, could also bring a lemon law claim under California lemon law because he is stationed in California.

    However, in this case, he would need to bring the claim while he is stationed in California to be protected by California lemon law.

    The Small Business Exception to the CA Lemon Law

    Small businesses should also be aware of an exception in California’s lemon law. Although the lemon law may appear to only cover personal vehicles, it has an exception for vehicles used by small businesses as well.

    So long as a business has no more than five vehicles registered in its name, and the potential lemon vehicle weights less than 10,000 pounds, California lemon law will apply. This allows small business owners to benefit from the protections of California’s lemon law if their business is small enough, or if they have few enough vehicles registered.

    Los Angeles County Resources

    If you live in Los Angeles County and are dealing with a lemon law claim, there are some resources specific to LA County that may help. Los Angeles County has a Department of Consumer and Business Affairs with sections that can help inform you of your options regarding a defective vehicle. Other resources, like our Lemon Law Blog, also contain useful information about ongoing and upcoming lemon law issues.

    As mentioned, it is important to remember that there is no lemon law specific to Los Angeles. However, it can be helpful to work with an attorney who is familiar with the legal environment of Los Angeles if you are bringing a claim there. Skilled lemon law attorneys with a good reputation are great to have in your corner if you plan on filing a claim in Los Angeles.

    Work With a Los Angeles Lemon Law Attorney!

    Lemon Law claims can be time-sensitive, and our experienced team of Lemon Law Experts will work with you to ensure you are properly compensated. We understand that a defective vehicle is often frustrating and stressful to deal with: let us assist you and navigate the California legal landscape with you.

    As the prevailing party with a California Lemon Law claim, the defendant is responsible to pay for the consumer’s attorneys fees and costs. This makes pursuing a lemon law claim an easy and right decision as there is no out of pocket cost to the consumer for our legal representation.

    If we determine you have a valid Lemon claim, we will handle your claim at no cost to you. If you have a vehicle you believe to be a lemon, don’t waste time and contact the Lemon Law Experts for a free case evaluation today!