We Know: How Lemon Laws Work

What are Lemon Laws?

Lemon Laws are state laws that say a manufacturer must provide a refund or replacement for a defective new vehicle that is not repaired within a reasonable number of attempts. They may cover  cars, truck, van, SUVs, motorcycles, boats or consumer products, depending on the state.

What are the basic rules of State Lemon Laws?

Most States Lemon Laws provide for refund or replacement where there a substantial defect in the vehicle. If a vehicle :

  • cannot be fixed in 3-4 tries
  • has a safety defect not fixed within a specified number of tries
  • is out of service for a specified number of days, or within a specified amount of time from the initial purchase.

You can easily locate the Lemon Laws for your state by searching the internet or by calling your state for consumer information.

What types of defects qualify under the Lemon Laws?

Minor defects such as bad ashtrays would not qualify as substantial, but transmission and electrical defects would.

What is the Federal Governments role in Lemon Laws?

The federal Magnuson-Moss Warranty Act provides for the award of attorney fees from the manufacturer if you have to sue to return a lemon under the UCC. Many state Lemon Laws also provide for attorney fees.

What do I do If I believe I have a lemon?

If you believe your car is a lemon:

  • Give the dealer a list of the problems every time you bring it in for repairs.
  • Get and keep copies of the repair orders listing the problems, the work done, and the dates that the car was in the shop.
  • Contact the manufacturer, as well as the dealer, to report the problem. Your owner's manual will list an address for the manufacturer.


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