Vachon Law Firm

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California’s Song-Beverly Consumer Warranty Act (i.e., the statute commonly referred to as the “California lemon law”) states that automobile manufacturers are obligated to repair any “nonconformities to warranty” within a reasonable number of attempts. So the critical question is whether your car’s malfunctions qualify as a “nonconformity to warranty.”

Under the lemon law, whether you have a vehicle with a nonconformity to its warranty is primarily determined by considering three factors: (1) whether the defect impairs the use, value, or safety of the automobile; (2) how often the malfunction or defect has occurred; and (3) the driving habits and characteristics of the vehicle’s owner. Keep reading to find out more about the lemon law, and to see whether your are entitled to a lemon lay buyback!

The California Lemon Law Covers Defects that Impair the “Use, Value, or Safety” of an Automobile

In California, the lemon law statute has a specific definition of what a “nonconformity to warranty” means. Specifically, the lemon law defines a nonconformity to warranty as a defect that “impairs the use, value, or safety” of an automobile. Thus, in order for a vehicle to be a lemon under California law, the automobile’s malfunction must diminish the fair market value of the vehicle (if the owner were to attempt to sell it), must prevent of limit the owner’s use of the vehicle, or must result in the car or truck becoming less safe for the driver, the passengers, other drivers on the road, or pedestrians.

As set forth below, in determining whether the use, value, or safety of an automobile has been diminished, the lemon law applies a “reasonable person” standard that, to a limited extent, takes into account the vehicle’s owner’s individual circumstances and characteristics.

If you think that your car or truck is a lemon, or have questions about whether your car’s or truck’s defect is covered under the lemon law, please call the Vachon Law Firm to find out more. Call us toll free at 1-855-4-LEMON-LAW (1-855-453-6665) or contact us via email at

The Lemon Law Uses a “Reasonable Person” Standard

Obviously, everyone could have their own opinions about what types of defects impair the use, value, of safety of an automobile. But under the California lemon law, a lemon vehicle owner’s personal opinions don’t determine whether the car’s use, value, or safety has been lessened. Rather, California’s lemon law asks whether the automobile’s use, value, or safety would be diminished for a hypothetical “reasonable person” who uses an ordinary amount of caution and who drives the vehicle in an ordinary manner. Thus, it is not sufficient under the lemon law for a consumer to claim that a malfunctioning radio kept him from using the vehicle. Whether it actually did or not isn’t the question – it’s whether a “reasonable person” would find the use, value, or safety to be lessened.

In Some Circumstances, the Automobile Owner’s Circumstances Help Determine Whether it is a Lemon Under the California Lemon Law

The “reasonable person” test used by the lemon law in California doesn’t completely overlook the individual circumstances of the automobile’s owner. At least one California Court of Appeal decision (in a case called Lundy v. Ford Motor Company) has ruled that in determining whether or not the use, value, or safety of a vehicle has been impaired under the lemon law a jury should consider the characteristics and circumstances of the car’s owner.

As a result, the reasonable specific needs and uses of a vehicle owner will, in some cases, be relevant under the lemon law in California. For example, an elderly man with a circulatory disorder may have a better chance of convincing a jury that malfunctioning seat warmers prevented him from using his car on long trips. Similarly, a truck with a moderate (but not severe) overheating problem might not be a lemon for most drivers, but be a lemon for person who lives in a hot, mountainous region of California.

Call California Lemon Law Attorney if You Have Questions About Whether Your Automobile is a Lemon

Still have questions about whether your car or truck is a lemon under California’s lemon law? If so, call expert California lemon law attorney Michael Vachon, LL.M. and get a free consultation to find out about your rights under California’s lemon law statute.

Call us toll free at 1-855-4-LEMON-LAW (1-855-453-6665) or send us your questions by email at