Lemon Law Information
Lemon Law Guides
State Lemon Law Statutes
Think your Car is a Lemon? See how your State defines what a Lemon is and if your
Car and its Repair History qualify.
Nearly all State Lemon Law Statutes are similar to the
Federal Magnuson-Moss Warranty Act which makes breach of warranty
a violation of federal law. All States have enacted their own Warranty
Acts and many States have enacted specific Statutes that pertain to
Automobile Warranties. If your car is not considered a "lemon"
in your State, you do have other recourses.
Lemon Law Summaries - Lemon Law Summaries for each
Lemon Law Statutes - Lemon Law Statutes
for each State.
What is a Lemon?
A vehicle that continues to have a defect that substantially impairs its use,
value, or safety. Generally, if the car has been repaired 4 or more times for
the same Defect within the Warranty Period and the Defect has not been fixed,
the car qualifies as a Lemon. All States differ so you should consult the Lemon
Law Summary and the State Statutes for your particular
State. Note that the warranty period may or may not coincide with the Manufacturer's
Do I have a Lemon?
If the paint is peeling, the light switch came out when you pulled on it,
the car makes "funny noises" but otherwise drives just fine, or you
found 10 things you don't like about your new car but none of them prevent you
from driving it, then No, you do not have a Lemon.
If the brakes don't work, the car won't go into reverse gear, the darn thing
won't start on cold mornings or hot afternoons, the rear door opens all by itself,
the driver's seat wobbles, or the car chugs along at 30 mph when it should be
going 50 mph, then Yes, you may have a Lemon. Providing you've given the
manufacturer an opportunity to repair the defect.
In most States, 10 different defects during the Warranty Period does not brand
the car as a Lemon. In some States, a single defect that might cause Serious Injury
makes your car a Lemon if the manufacturer cannot fix the problem within 1 attempt.
You may have a Lemon, but if you do nothing to protect your Consumer Rights,
such as documenting your Repairs and allowing the Manufacturer a chance to fix
the problem(s), you lose all rights under the various State Warranty Acts.
Do I need a Lawyer?
The answer depends upon which State you Purchased or Registered your car in.
In some States and with proper documentation, you simply file a Complaint. In
other States, you will need to hire an Attorney.
Who pays the Lawyer?
Only about half of the States allow you to recover Attorney Fees. If your
Attorney sues under the Magnuson-Moss Warranty Act, you will be awarded Attorney
Fees if you win. Note that an Attorney's Fee is based upon actual time
expended rather than being tied to any percentage of the recovery. In some States,
you must pay the manufacturer's Attorney Fees if you lose.
Is a Used or Leased Car protected?
It depends upon which State the car was purchased or leased in. Some states
include used and leased cars in their Lemon Law statutes. Some states have separate
laws for used vehicles. Some states provide protection only for new cars. In some
states, even the Attorney General is unable to tell you if a Leased vehicle is
covered due to the way the law is phrased and you will be referred to an Attorney
for clarification of the law. See the Lemon Law Summary
and the State Statutes for your particular State
to determine what is covered.
Are there any other laws to know about when purchasing a New Car or a Used Car?
You won't know if you have a lemon until sometime after you drive off the lot. But what about your
rights before, during and after you buy that new or used car with regard to the car buying process itself?
Several important federal laws, including laws for Truth in Lending, Fair Credit Reporting, Electronic Fund
Transfers and Equal Credit Opportunities, protect you at all stages of the car buying process. Following
these car buying tips will allow you to know whether any of these laws were violated with regard to your
purchase and what to do it they were.
What about Motor Homes and Motorcycles?
Most States cover the drive train portion of Motor Homes (that part which
is not used for dwelling purposes). Motorcycles are generally not covered but
a few states do include them in their lemon law statutes.
If you have a defective Motorcycle, Motor Home, used car, leased car, or a car
used for business purposes and your State Lemon Law does not cover these vehicles,
you still have other recourses such as the Uniform Commercial Code and the Federal
Magnuson-Moss Warranty Act (providing you were given a written warranty). Consult
with an Attorney that specializes in this area.
Tips to Protect your Investment
- Often times, your new car isn't suspected of being a Lemon until it is too
late (out of warranty, over the mileage limit, etc). If you keep a record of every
repair visit, starting with the first one, you will protect your rights under
Consumer Laws. Our Repair Log makes it easy to record
every Repair Attempt.
- Document everything! This includes notes, who you talk to, what is said, dates
and times. Put your complaints in writing and keep a copy for yourself. Be sure
to obtain a copy of any Warranty Repair Orders. Demand a copy if necessary and
if the dealer will not give you one, be sure to document the fact. When you pick
up your car, obtain an Invoice. The dealer may claim that you are not entitled
to an Invoice because there were no charges (you were not invoiced for any repairs).
It is up to you to prove repair attempts! The final Invoice shows what
was or was not repaired.
- Make absolutely sure the dealer records your complaint on the Repair Order
exactly as you describe it. You must make sure to describe the defect exactly
the same on each repair visit or you may forfeit your rights under the "reasonable
attempts to repair for the same defect" clause.
- Be sure that the date, time in, and odometer reading are recorded as well
as the date and time you picked up the car. In most States you are covered by
the Lemon Law if the vehicle has been in the repair shop for an accumulative number
of days during the coverage period.
- If your car fails in the middle of the desert or in the middle lane of rush
hour freeway traffic, record the date and time, the amount of time you had to
wait for assistance, whether or not you had to rent a car, and your general overall
feelings. The emotional trauma dealing with a defective vehicle has a lot of bearing
on your case should you need to go to arbitration or court.
|Lemon Law Summaries
Lemon Law Statutes