How Does Lemon Law Affect Electric Vehicles?

If you were excited to purchase a swanky new electric vehicle only to discover it was defective, you’re probably very disappointed. But don’t despair — you might have a legal remedy. For everyone who is asking “how does lemon law affect electric vehicles?”, we’ve got answers. The skilled lemon law attorneys at Neale & Fhima have won countless lemon law cases.

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There are a lot of lemon law lawyers in California to choose from, but we believe the attorneys at Neale & Fhima outshine the competition. That’s because we have a 99% track record of success in handling lemon law claims for our clients. Attorney Aaron Fhima has decades of experience in aggressively representing clients. He is supported by a legal team that shows compassion and care for each client we serve. We receive positive testimonials from our many satisfied clients, and we offer a free initial consultation about your case. You are under no obligation.

Neale & Fhima has a 99% success rate in lemon law cases.


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How does California’s lemon law apply to electric and hybrid vehicles?

California lemon law, also known as the Song-Beverly Consumer Warranty Act, applies to electric and hybrid vehicles in much the same way it applies to traditional combustion engine cars and trucks. The difference is the types of defects might be different. For example, electric vehicles don’t have exhaust systems like traditional vehicles do, so a defect won’t arise there in EVs. However, electric vehicles might have problems with defective lithium-ion batteries or their drivetrains. Generally, the lemon law covers all parts and systems in electric vehicles.

EVs are subject to the same lemon law requirement stating that the defect must significantly impair the USE, VALUE or SAFETY of the vehicle, and consumers must make a reasonable number of attempts to have the vehicle repaired by a dealership or authorized agent before filing a lemon law claim. So keep all receipts, work orders, and used parts so you can prove you made the required repair attempts. To learn more read How to File a Lemon Law Claim in California.

Keep in mind that Tesla purchase agreements signed on the day of sale can limit your legal recourse, so read these documents carefully before signing.

Defects Common to Electric Vehicles

As the popularity of EVs grows, a body of knowledge is developing about defects common to electric vehicles:


More expensive EVs often have sophisticated navigation and radio systems that are very 21st Century. While these can provide a great deal of driver satisfaction, they can also result in a huge headache if the navigation or radio system is defective. Frustrated owners have complained about problems with display screens and in-car electronics.


There have been a lot of stories in the news about electric vehicles catching fire. While not common, these blazes can be spectacular because they burn at very high temperatures and are hard to put out. Battery fires appear to fall into two categories:

  • Some fires appear to have occurred while EVs were parked and, in some cases, while inside a garage and/or hooked up to a charger.
  • Other fires are ignited by a crash that damages and shorts out the battery pack, setting individual cells ablaze.


According to a study by Consumer Reports, EVs consistently have problems with their climate systems that control heat and cooling. The highly sophisticated temperature sensors can be finicky. The study found that electric SUVs are the least reliable vehicles on the road.


Power seats, power doors, and other power systems can fail without warning, leaving owners stranded. Lawsuits have been filed by consumers fed up with faulty power equipment.


The Consumer Reports study also found that EV customers struggled with annoying problems with weatherstripping, seals, mismatched paint and trim on their new electric vehicles, resulting in a purchase experience that was less than ideal.


The heavy lithium-ion batteries in electric vehicles are sophisticated and very expensive, ranging in price from $4,000 to $20,000. Unlike batteries in gasoline-powered vehicles, when EV batteries have a defect, it’s a big problem. The average EV battery weighs about 1,000 pounds, and they are very sensitive to extreme cold and heat. Heat causes a battery to degrade prematurely, and cold can significantly curtail the range of the battery.

Overall, the CR study revealed that electric vehicles have significantly higher defective rates than do internal-combustion vehicles across model years 2019 and 2020. In addition to difficulties with manufacturing defects, EVs have a charging access problem because too few charging stations exist to meet demand, given the explosion in popularity of electric vehicles.

In addition to the ever-popular Tesla models, electric vehicles built by other manufacturers include:

  • Audi e-tron 50 & 55
  • BMW i3
  • Chevrolet Bolt EV
  • Ford Focus Electric and Mustang Mach-E
  • Honda Clarity Electric
  • Hyundai Ioniq Electric & Kona Electric
  • Kia Soul EV & e-Niro
  • Mercedes-Benz B Class Electric & EQC
  • Mitsubishi i-MiEV
  • Nissan Leaf
  • Porsche Taycan
  • Tesla Model S, Model X, Model 3 and Model Y
  • Volkswagen e-up!, ID.4 and ID.3.

While there may not be a lot of used electric vehicles around because EVs are so new, the California lemon law does cover used electric vehicles — just as it does gas-combustion used vehicles – that have one of three types of warranties. These are (1) Transferred new car warranty, (2) Certified pre-owned warranty, and (3) Lemon law buyback warranty. Generally, EVs purchased “as is” or in private sales are not covered under the California lemon law.

Statute of Limitations on Lemon Law Claims

The statute of limitations for filing a lemon law claim in California is four (4) years from the date a consumer knew or should have known that the vehicle was a lemon. This does not mean that if you have had your vehicle for more than 4 years, you cannot bring a lemon law claim. Our attorneys at Neale & Fhima have successfully “lemoned” vehicles that are over 10 years old. If you have purchased or leased a lemon, you’ll want to start the buyback process as soon as possible. After the statute of limitations has passed, a judge may dismiss your case. Don’t hesitate to contact our team if you have questions about the statute of limitations. Collect copies of your repair bills, work orders, and payment receipts and call an experienced lemon law attorney today.

Don’t delay in contacting an attorney if you believe your EV is a lemon. You want to file a legal claim before that statute of limitations expires.

Lemon Law Remedies

When you win a lemon law case, you choose the remedy that works best for you based on your personal situation and budget. Remedies include:

1. Repurchase

The manufacturer will take possession of the defective EV and issue you a refund of the purchase price. The price will be reduced based on your mileage use prior to the first repair attempt (read about this “buyback formula.” ) If you financed the vehicle, the manufacturer will refund the payments you’ve made so far and the down payment. It will also pay off your auto loan, sending a check to the lending institution. In addition, you will receive a refund of registration fees, taxes, etc.

2. Replacement

The manufacturer will take possession of your defective EV and provide you with a new car, SUV, or truck of identical or similar make and model. The manufacturer will pay the registration and taxes on the new EV. You will not, however, receive a refund of fees or finance charges paid on the original vehicle. This option requires the consent of both parties.

3. “Cash and Keep”

In limited cases, we can negotiate an additional option called a “cash and keep.” This enables you to keep possession of your current EV and get a cash payment to compensate for the defect.

Contact an Electric Vehicle Lemon Law Attorney Today

At Neale & Fhima, we have a 99% success rate in lemon law cases. Our decades of experience and intimate knowledge of the quirks and nuances in state statutes and case law enable us to qualify vehicles for lemon law coverage even if they’re more than four years old. We negotiate aggressively with auto manufacturers to get the compensation you deserve. Whether you want a replacement vehicle or a lemon law buyback, we’ll fight hard to achieve a favorable outcome in your case. To find out more about how we can help, call us for a free initial consultation at 949-661-1007.

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Attorney Aaron Fhima

Attorney Aaron Fhima is a trial attorney who has secured numerous settlements and verdicts against large corporations and some of the largest auto manufacturers in the world. Representing consumers and injury victims throughout the state of California, Aaron’s practice areas include personal injury, and lemon law litigation. Aaron has a long record of success taking on large defense firms; and he doesn’t hesitate to take cases to trial when necessary to enforce his clients’ rights.