About The California Military Lemon Law Bill

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Military lemon law

On January 1, 2008 the California lemon law was extended to provide protection to all military personnel stationed in California regardless of where the vehicle was purchased.

Senate Bill SB234, referred to as the California "military lemon law," was inspired by a USN lieutenant who had purchased a vehicle while stationed at an out of state, i.e., non-California, military facility. The vehicle exhibited numerous manufacturing defects related to safety and use, and after several failed attempts to repair the defects the dealer offered to repurchase the vehicle. The dealer, however, refused to apply the statutory formula for calculating the use fee deduction under the California lemon law statute because the vehicle was not purchased in California. Instead, the dealer demanded a considerably higher use fee deduction thereby reducing the lieutenant's recovery. Under the California lemon law as it existed at that time, the dealer was legally correct. Unfortunately, this left such military personnel at a disadvantage and in an unfair position compared to their civilian counterparts, and with no valid recourse.

As a result of the lawsuit brought on behalf of the USN buyer, the California lemon law was extended to provide protection to all military personnel stationed in California regardless of where the vehicle was purchased. The bill was widely supported and passed unanimously in both houses of the California Assembly.

California was the first state in the nation to offer such special protections to active duty military troops whose vehicles are "lemons", regardless where their vehicles are purchased or registered. Today, many states have followed California's lead and have extended their lemon law statutes to include protection for military members who have purchased out of state vehicles which turn out to be lemons.