Does My Car Qualify as a Lemon?

Lemon Car

Does My Car Qualify as a Lemon?

For many of us, buying a new car is one of the most important decisions and exciting events in our lives. 

So, if your car turns out to be a lemon, it’s no surprise just how devastating this can be. Fortunately, California has a lemon law that protects new car buyers from defective vehicles.

What are Examples of Defects that Substantially Impair the Use of My Car?

Many examples exist, as discussed below.

Airbag Defects

Front airbags have been shown to reduce driver fatalities in front-end collisions by 29 percent, while side airbags reduce driver-side fatalities by 37 percent. Therefore, defective airbags can have devastating consequences. For example, they can inflate when they shouldn’t, or they don’t deploy when they should.
Faulty airbags are not uncommon, and there have been large-scale recalls of them. For example, one recall resulted in 70 million vehicles needing an airbag replacement. This was due to the belief that the airbags had caused 15 deaths and over 250 injuries.

Air Conditioner Defects

Many areas of California, including the Los Angeles area, have warm climates. If your air conditioner is not working, this can have a serious impact on the usability of your vehicle.

Cruise Control Defects

Cruise control has several benefits. For example, using it often reduces a driver’s inclination to speed, resulting in increased safety. Second, it makes driving a long trip easier and less stressful for the driver. If the cruise control is defective, this may substantially impair the use of the vehicle.

Electrical Defects

A faulty electrical system can have severe consequences, such as the following:
Any of these could cause personal injury or lead to an accident, which is why electrical defects are usually considered to substantially impair a car’s use.

Gas or Brake Pedal Defects

Losing the ability to control your acceleration or deceleration is a recipe for disaster. This danger to safety is a substantial impairment.

Safety Belt Defects

Safety belts save lives. Nearly half of all people in fatal vehicle accidents were not wearing their seat belts. These safety devices are estimated to save over 2,500 lives per year. There’s little question that faulty safety belts likely substantially impair the use of a vehicle.

Security Defects

According to the Los Angeles Police Department, about 30,000 vehicles are stolen every year in the city. Even if the vehicle is recovered, much of the time it has been stripped of parts or has been significantly damaged.
While a vehicle’s locks or security system is not a guarantee that a car won’t be stolen, these measures certainly reduce the likelihood of theft. So, a vehicle without working locks or a functional security system may be considered to have a defect that substantially impairs its use.

Transmission Defects

A car’s transmission helps make sure the right amount of power goes to your wheels by increasing or decreasing torque. It has many interconnected, moving parts exposed to heat and friction. Therefore, it’s no surprise that a transmission system may not work properly or even be defective.
If the transmission isn’t working right, then there is the risk of:
These issues can be serious enough to substantially impair the use of a vehicle.

What are My Remedies if My Vehicle Does Have a Defect that Substantially Impairs its Use?

If your vehicle has such a defect, then the manufacturer has the right to try and repair the vehicle. The manufacturer is not required to fix the defect in one try. Instead, it has a reasonable number of attempts to do so. While the lemon law does not specify how many attempts are reasonable, the following guidelines are presumed to constitute a reasonable number of repair events:
If, after a reasonable number of repair attempts, the vehicle’s defect has not been repaired, you have a lemon. In this case, the manufacturer must either replace the vehicle or refund its purchase price – the choice is yours.

Reasons to Hire a Lemon Law Lawyer

Even if your vehicle is a lemon, the manufacturer may not agree. It may claim the defect is minimal or that the problem can easily be fixed with just one more visit to the repair shop. If this is the case, then you need a lemon law lawyer on your side. These experienced lawyers provide the following benefits:


Although simply worded, the lemon law can be complex. It doesn’t define what “substantially impairs” a vehicle’s use or what constitutes a “reasonable number” of repair attempts. A lemon law lawyer knows the ins and outs of the law and puts this knowledge to use for you.


Vehicle manufacturers have vast resources to hire sophisticated lawyers to handle lemon law claims. An experienced lemon law lawyer working on your behalf knows how to work with these high-powered lawyer and focuses on getting you the remedy you deserve.


If negotiation fails, the manufacturer and vehicle purchaser will often attempt to resolve their dispute through arbitration. The lemon law lawyer is experienced in arbitration and will zealously represent your case.