The Song-Beverly Consumer Warranty Act and California Lemon Laws

The Song-Beverly Consumer Warranty Act and California Lemon Laws

A fundamental consumer protection law in California is the Song-Beverly Act, one of the strongest laws of its kind from coast to coast. The Golden State’s Song-Beverly Act (Civ. Code, section 1790 – 1795.8), implemented in the 1970s, regulates consumer warranties for retail products. Before the Song-Beverly Act, consumers had minimal or no protection against faulty or defective products. Under the Song-Beverly Act, consumers are entitled to express warranties, such as repairs, replacements, or refunds, for the goods they purchase. The act also supports consumers by maintaining safeguards to fight defective products and warranty breach cases.

Song-Beverly Act — an Older Relative of the California Lemon Law

The Song-Beverly act is the umbrella that covers the California Lemon law, which provides consumer protection when a vehicle is defective and is not repairable after a reasonable number of attempts. The lemon law’s official name is the Song-Beverly Act. However, the Song-Beverly Act is comprehensive and provides other protections and coverage alongside vehicles for non-commercial goods.

California Lemon Law — Polished and Refined

When the Song-Beverly Act was enacted, consumers were protected if new automobiles they either purchased or leased were “lemons” due to manufacturing errors, defects, and faults. In addition, after a reasonable number of attempts, if a new vehicle wasn’t able to be restored or repaired by a manufacturer-authorized dealer or the manufacturer, then the vehicle is to be replaced, or the total purchase price of the vehicle is returned to the lessee or owner by the automaker. However, at the time, manufacturers and authorized dealers took advantage of the loosely structured and supported wording of the term “reasonable number of attempts.” Fortunately, California enacted The Tanner Act in the 1980s to clarify the phrase “reasonable number of attempts.” As the Act evolved over the next several decades, other essential provisions were also added.

The Tanner Act, a subcategory of the Lemon Law, provides consumers and manufacturers with a framework for a reasonable number of attempts and expands how a new vehicle could qualify as a “lemon.” A vehicle where the dealer attempts the same repair on a faulty part unsuccessfully twice during the initial 18,000 miles or 18 months would be eligible as a lemon. In turn, the buyer could either get the purchase price returned or a new replacement vehicle. Additionally, if a vehicle is unsafe to drive, the car is not functioning correctly or is not as safe as a comparable vehicle, it also qualifies as a lemon. If a car is undrivable for 30 days or more since the driver obtained it or the dealer tries to repair the same performance issue four or more times, the lemon law protections also take effect.

Song-Beverly: Expenses Covered and Other Vehicles

The Song Beverly Act continued to grow in power with such consumer protections for reimbursement and compensation for damages. Manufacturers’ breach of the warranty Act triggers other provisions such as reimbursement for rentals or rideshares and even attorney fees, and the manufacturer may be required to pay civil penalties. Additionally, as per the Act, if a consumer selects the refund option instead of a replacement vehicle, they will receive the money they paid for the vehicle, including taxes and fees, out-of-pocket repair costs, and rental car bills.

Under the Act and Lemon Law, other vehicles are also offered protections, including mobile homes and travel trailers, recreational vehicles, motorcycles, and boats. Used cars have a bit of a narrower window of coverage as they must still be under the initial warranty for the car.

There is a Lemon in Your Driveway — Now What?

If you believe you have purchased a lemon, you may be entitled to a new vehicle or purchase price refund, incidental damages, consequential damages, and other reimbursements. It is essential to schedule a free consultation with an experienced California Lemon Law attorney who can begin examining and determining the prospect of your claim.

July 27, 2022