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California Lemon Laws

A "lemon" is a new car with either one major defect or a series of recurring problems that the dealer or other mechanics are unable to remedy. Since cars are both complicated and expensive, lemon laws were enacted to give consumers more peace of mind when purchasing a new car. The below article highlights the main provisions of California's lemon law, known as the Tanner Consumer Protection Act.

Code Section

California Civil Code section 1793.22

Name of Law

Tanner Consumer Protection Act

Types of Vehicles Covered by the Law

Generally, new and used cars that are sold and leased in California and come with a manufacturer’s new car warranty

What is a Lemon?

A car that the manufacturer is unable to conform to express warranties after a reasonable number of attempted repairs.

What is a Nonconformity?

A defect that impairs the use, value, or safety of the motor vehicles.

What is a Reasonable Number of Repair Attempts?

California law does not specify the number of repairs that must be attempted. However, the law presumes a car is a lemon if, within eighteen months or 18,000 miles, the following has occurred and the car has not been repaired:

  • Two or more attempts to fix a problem that is likely to cause death or serious injury if the car is driven;
  • Four or more attempts to repair a reoccurring problem; or
  • The car has been out of service for more than thirty days (does not have to be thirty days in a row) while attempting to repair any number of problems.

Time Limit for Manufacturer Repairs

California consumers have eighteen months or 18,000 miles from the date of purchase, whichever occurs first, to return a car if it is determined to be a lemon.


The manufacturer must replace the car or reimburse the buyer in an amount equal to the purchase price paid by the buyer, less any amount directly attributable to the use by the buyer before discovery of the defect.

It’s important to know your rights as a consumer. The following links provide additional resources for Lemon Laws:

If you think you purchased a lemon and want know you legal rights, you may consider speaking to a consumer protection attorney. An attorney can also help you determine whether you may have been the victim of auto dealer fraud.    

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