What qualifies as a "Lemon"?

The Lemon Law requires that the vehicle has a "non conformity to warranty" thatsubstantially impairs the use, value, or safety of the vehicle to the buyer.

The problem with the vehicle can be one or any combination of problems, but it must be substantial. Some examples;

  • electrical problems
  • air conditioner failure
  • Rough running and/or idle
  • hesitation upon acceleration
  • loss of power
  • check engine light on
  • vehicle surge
  • engine stalling
  • engine misfire
  • Engine hesitation or surge
  • engine overheating
  • hard start or no start problems
  • ignition system failure
  • clunk when shifting
  • engine knock; engine pinging
  • instrument cluster problems
  • transmission slipping
  • transmission banging into gear
  • transmission won’t shift
  • transmission clunk
  • transmission fluid leak
  • pulling when brakes applied
  • brake pulsation
  • brake rotors warped
  • brakes pull or grind
  • brake squealing
  • front end shakes when brakes applied
  • won't hold an alignment
  • oil consumption
  • power locks don't work
  • Key and lock malfunctions
  • sliding door problems
  • abnormal or uneven tire wear
  • black smoke from tail pipe
  • white smoke from tail pipe
  • catalytic converter and emissions problems
  • sulfur smell from engine
  • mold/mildew bad odor from A/C
  • Check Engine Light comes on repeatedly
  • fuel sending problems
  • gas gauge giving incorrect readings
  • front end shake
  • leaky manifold
  • exhaust leaks
  • coolant and radiator leaks
  • water leaks
  • roof leaks and window leaks
  • paint defects
  • repeated blown fuses
  • Transmission clunks
  • Headlight and taillight malfunctions
  • Electrical problems
  • Steering and alignment

The circumstances vary from case to case, and what constitutes a substantial impairment depends upon a variety of factors. It is important to have an accurate history of the repairs. To evaluate a specific set of circumstances, it is recommended that you contact a lawyer in your area.

Here is a list of the documents you should begin gathering.
  1. Purchase Contract, and any piece of paper associated with the purchase.

  2. Current registration.

  3. Repair Orders and any other repair and maintenance records.

  4. Any correspondence or emails about the problems with the dealer or the manufacturer.

  5. Copy of the warranty portion of the manual.

  6. All brochures, advertising, promotional materials re the vehicle.

  7. The window sticker if available.

  8. Any receipts for expenses, car rental, towing, accessories, etc.

Protect Your Rights

The lemon law requirements are very technical, and the assistance of a lawyer is important to protect your rights.

San Diego Lemon Law Center | The Law Office of Michael E. Lindsey
Tel: (858) 270-7000 Fax: (858) 270-7710 | 4455 Morena Blvd., Ste. 207 San Diego, CA, 92117 (see map)

General Information Only

The information in the San Diego Lemon Law Center pages is for general information only and is not intended to be taken as legal advice. If you have a specific legal question or problem, please feel free to contact us or you should promptly consult with an Attorney handling such matters in your area for advice.