Car Lemon Law

What is it?

Car Lemon Law - Your car is a major investment that should last for years on the road – not break down the day after you bought it. Yet sometimes lemons, faulty cars that just don’t work properly, do make it out of the showroom and onto the highway. Fortunately, laws have been set in place to protect you the consumer so you don’t have to keep your defective auto. Using this law, you can bring your car back demanding free repairs, a refund, or a new car.


A Brief History of the Car Lemon Law

The car lemon law is a type of warranty law that finds its roots in the federal Magnuson-Moss Warranty Act. Enacted in 1975, this law made it easier for consumers to obtain an understandable warranty and to seek recourse if a warranty was breached. The law outlined a set of requirements manufacturers must abide by when creating their warranties and provided for various settlement procedures to resolve breached warranties.

In 1982 California and Connecticut decided to get more specific and simultaneously passed the first vehicle lemon law for their states. Soon after the rest of the States followed suit and passed laws to protect consumers from lemon cars. These laws vary in their specifics but are quite similar overall; they outline under what conditions consumers can seek recourse for defective cars.

The Basics

Most cars are sold with a warranty guaranteeing that it will work without problems for a certain length of time. If the car happens to have problems within the warranty period- the dealer or manufacturer is required to fix the problem free of charge under the lemon law. However, if the problem can’t be fixed within a certain number of repair attempts or business days – you could be entitled to a refund or replacement car.

The number of repair attempts required does vary by State so it’s important to check your local laws before filing a law suit. The types of defects covered by the various State laws also differ. In general though – your car’s problem has to significantly affect its use, safety, or market value to fall under a car lemon law.


This lemon law benefits you in several ways. It protects your rights as a consumer, so you get what you pay for – in this case, a car that works. If your car isn’t working, the car lemon law lets you know just what you can do to seek recourse. The law enforces the warranty that came with your auto and enables you to get a refund or new car if the first one wasn’t working out.

The car lemon law also provides an incentive to dealers and manufacturers to make sure their cars are in good working order in the first place. Repairs and refunds are bad for business so dealerships will do their best to sell only cars they know are ready for the road. Offering a competitive warranty is also a good way to draw in customers and build consumer trust.

Applying the Law for Lemon Cars

The lemon law can be applied to any new car that has a warranty and isn’t functioning properly. In some states it can also be applied to used autos that turn out to be lemon cars. However, the law can be tricky and manufacturers may not want to admit that a warranty has been breached. They might try to pin a malfunction on you and say the problem does not fall under the warranty. In such cases it’s important to find a lawyer with experience in vehicle lemon laws. A good lawyer can help you figure out the details and get you the remedy you deserve.

NOTE:The information here is not legal advice and is only presented to you so you can know your options if you purchased a lemon. As with any legal issue, you should seek the advice of a qualified attorney.


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