Filing a lemon law claim in California is not an all-or-nothing endeavor. There are a number of possible outcomes when you file a claim under the California Lemon Law. Don’t expect the auto manufacturer to compensate you in full immediately. But don’t expect to walk away empty-handed either. So, what happens if you win a lemon law case? Or, what are the possible outcomes?

Here are some of the possible outcomes for a lemon law claim:

Refund of the purchase price

This is often the most desired outcome of a lemon law claim. You can use the refund to purchase any make or model of car you want. In exchange for the refund, the manufacturer or dealership will take possession of your lemon vehicle. They will  brand the title of the vehicle as a lemon, in accordance with the law.

It is worth noting that if there is obvious damage to a vehicle from an accident or engine damage from neglected oil changes, the refund amount awarded could be less than the original purchase price or may even prevent a viable claim.

Cash and keep

A “cash and keep” settlement means you receive cash for your troubles (less than the original purchase price) but still keep the vehicle. This is worth considering if you can live with the problem associated with your vehicle or believe that the issue has been resolved once and for all. It can be tempting to accept this offer, but it is a good idea to consult a lemon law attorney to understand the pros and cons of this option and to make sure you do not sign away your rights when you accept the cash.

A replacement vehicle

Sometimes a manufacturer will agree to replace your lemon with a comparable vehicle, but this outcome is rare. The reason is because manufacturers lose money on a replacement vehicle.

Final repair attempt

A dealership must be allowed a reasonable number of chances to repair a recurring issue with a vehicle before a claim can be considered. If you go through arbitration, sometimes the arbitrator will give the manufacturer another chance to fix their mistake. It’s possible that the manufacturer finally found a way to permanently fix the problem between the previous repair attempt and when you filed the paperwork for your lemon law claim. If that’s the case, they might get one last chance to make it right.

Extended service contract

For some car owners, this is an acceptable settlement. If a manufacturer offers an extended service contract on your lemon vehicle, agreeing to provide service and repair for longer than the typical warranty period, this is a good way to cover the cost of anything else that might go wrong with your car beyond the known lemon problems.

Reimbursement for incidental expenses

In addition to the settlement options above, you could also be eligible for reimbursement of certain expenses incurred while dealing with lemon issues, such as towing expenses and rental car fees.


Of course, there’s always the chance that your claim yields no settlement. Even if you—and your attorney—believe you have a valid California Lemon Law case, it is possible that the law (or a jury) won’t rule in your favor.

Remember, every case is different, and while there might be patterns of settlements, there is no guarantee that the offer you receive will be the same as another person with the same vehicle. Having a California Lemon Law attorney in your corner (at no cost to you, by the way) can help you navigate the legal process, handle the paperwork, and negotiate the absolute best offer that’s right for you.

Think you have a claim? Take this quick free quiz here or get a free, no-obligation case evaluation from Sotera L. Anderson, California Lemon Law Attorney, here or call  1-855-96-LEMON, or (858) 247-0050.