What Types of Problems Are Covered by the Lemon Law?

What Types of Problems Are Covered by the Lemon Law?

There are many types of problems that are covered by the lemon law. Whether mechanical or electrical, these problems can range from steering and braking issues to defective navigation systems – and everything in between. The key to qualifying for California lemon law protection is that the defect must “substantially impair” the vehicle’s …

  • use,
  • value, or
  • safety.


A defect that compromises the use of your vehicle could be any malfunction that prevents you from being able to rely on your vehicle when and how you want to. Each system – brakes, heater, fuel injection, steering, etc. — is supposed to perform as advertised. When they don’t, the vehicle’s use and performance are compromised. Impaired use is an objective test determined by whether a reasonable person would find the use deficient.


A defect that compromises the value of your vehicle could be things like torn upholstery, exterior dent, deep paint scratches, or other flaws that reduce its resale value. The lemon law is designed to protect your financial investment. An expert automobile appraiser can determine whether a particular defect reduces a vehicle’s fair market value.


Where safety is concerned, there’s no requirement that the defect actually endangers you and other occupants; it must simply compromise your ability to drive safely. So, for example, defective automatic mirrors can impair your safety by hampering your view of oncoming cars, even though the malfunctioning mirrors don’t pose an imminent danger.

Common defects that could give rise to a lemon law claim include:

  • Engine failure
  • Navigation or sound system problems
  • Steering issues
  • Defective airbags and seatbelts
  • Braking problems (not just squeaking)
  • Fuel gauges and speedometer that don’t work
  • Poor acceleration
  • Electrical issues
  • Battery dies regularly, or drains irregularly
  • Engine fires
  • Door locks don’t work
  • Transmission issues.

The types of vehicle problems that would likely not give rise to a lemon law claim include small scratches, light bulbs that don’t work, a missing car mat, or other minor problems that can be remedied easily by a visit to the dealership service department. You can read more about California’s lemon law by reviewing the actual statute known as the Song-Beverly Consumer Warranty Act.

What do lemon laws apply to?

There are a wide variety of vehicle types that are covered by the California lemon law. Coverage is not limited to new vehicles only, nor is coverage restricted to just cars and trucks. If you’re wondering what do lemon laws apply to, the breakdown is as follows:

Brand new cars, trucks, and SUVs still under manufacturers’ warranty are covered by the lemon law. All new car owners receive a copy of this warranty at the dealership when they purchase the vehicle.

Some used cars and trucks are covered by the lemon law if they have one of three types of warranties. These include:

  • Transferred New Car Warranty
  • Certified Pre-Owned Warranty
  • Lemon Law Buyback Warranty

Most leased vehicles are covered by the lemon law, particularly if they are leased through a dealership.

More and more EVs are on the road these days, and electric cars and trucks are covered by the lemon law just like gasoline-fueled vehicles are.

The California lemon law covers boats, RVs, travel trailers, motorcycles, and various other recreational vehicles.

The California lemon law does not cover:

  • All-terrain and off-road vehicles
  • Vehicles with after-market parts and additions
  • Vehicles abused and damaged by owners.

What qualifies a car for the lemon law?

There are two critical questions to keep in mind when determining what qualifies a car for the lemon law. These questions also impact the timing of when you are allowed to file a lemon law claim. They are:

  1. Does the defect impair my vehicle’s use, value, or safety?
  2. Have I made a reasonable number of attempts to get my vehicle repaired?

You cannot file a lemon law claim until you’ve given the dealership a reasonable number of chances to fix the problem. That might be two trips to the repair shop, or four – the law can be a little fuzzy regarding just how many repair attempts are necessary. A skilled and experienced lemon law attorney can advise you about your unique situation. Whatever you do, be sure to save all your receipts, work orders, and spare parts from each repair appointment. You will need these to prove that you made a good-faith effort to get your vehicle fixed. Also, be sure to go to an official dealership to get your vehicle repaired rather than going to an independent neighborhood mechanic.

An experienced lemon law attorney not only knows the ins and outs of filing a legal claim, but he can also show you how to maximize your compensation. At Neale & Fhima, we have a 99% success rate in handling lemon law cases. We would be glad to advise you about when and how to file a claim.


Under California’s lemon law, you have four years to file a claim. The statute of limitations clock typically starts when the owner first experiences a problem with their vehicle. The sooner you file your legal claim, the sooner you’ll get results and receive a settlement.

Contact Neale & Fhima Lemon Law Lawyers Today

If you’re fed up with taking your car, truck, or SUV into the repair shop only to discover that the defect persists, it might be time to explore your legal options. California has a comprehensive lemon law designed to protect consumers from being sold a lemon. Our outstanding legal team can guide you throughout the legal process and answer all your questions. To learn more about our performance, read our satisfied clients’ testimonials. Neale & Fhima has a 99% record of success in lemon law cases! Whether your vehicle has faulty brakes, airbags, navigation, steering or transmission, we can help. To find out more, call us for a free initial consultation at 877-308-2128.

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.