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Ohio Lemon Law Consumer Guide

Ohio Lemon Laws and the federal Lemon Law (the Magnuson-Moss Warranty Act) provide for compensation to Ohio consumers of defective automobiles and trucks  and other vehicles and products including motorcycles, RV’s, boats, computers and other consumer appliances and products. To qualify under the Ohio Lemon Law or the federal Lemon Law, you must generally have a product that suffered multiple repair attempts under the manufacturer’s factory warranty. Lemon Law compensation can include a refund, replacement or cash compensation. The following comments briefly explain the Ohio Lemon Law and how it applies to you.

This message is not a substitute for contacting a lawyer who can best advise you of your rights. If you think you qualify for a Lemon Law, click here for a free Ohio Lemon Law case review or for an immediate evaluation, simply fax your repair records to 866-773-6152. An experienced Lemon Law attorney will personally review your inquiry and records and quickly contact you for a free consultation.

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Ohio Lemon Law

Ohio legislators passed one of the most comprehensive lemon laws in the nation in 1987. It requires automakers to repair defects that affect the use, value, or safety of a new motor vehicle within the first 12 months or 18,000 miles (whichever comes first). If you are having problems with your NEW purchased or leased vehicle, you should immediately take it to an authorized dealer for repair.

The automaker or dealer must be given a reasonable opportunity to fix the problem, and if the problem is not corrected, you might be eligible for a refund or replacement. You are covered by this law even if the problem was discovered late in the protection period and the repair attempts extend beyond one year or 18,000 miles. Failure to comply with Ohio’s Lemon Law is a violation of Ohio’s Consumer Sales Practices Act.

What Is a Lemon?

A lemon is a motor vehicle that has a problem or problems, covered by the warranty, that substantially impairs the use, value, or safety of that vehicle. If you have had problems within the first year or 18,000 miles with your passenger car, light truck (no more than one ton load capacity and not used in business), or motorcycle, you should take it back to the manufacturer or the dealer and ask them to fix it. If they fail to correct the problem(s) after being given a reasonable opportunity to do so, you might own a lemon.

Has the Manufacturer Had a Reasonable Opportunity to Repair the Vehicle?

If you can answer “yes” to any of the following four questions. the manufacturer is presumed to have had a reasonable opportunity to repair your vehicle under Ohio law.

  1. Have three or more attempts been made to repair one problem and then the problem occurs again?
  2. Has the vehicle been in the shop for 30 days or more during its first year or 18.000 miles?
  3. Have eight or more attempts been made to fix different problems that impair the use, value or safety of the vehicle?
  4. Has one unsuccessful attempt been made to fix a problem that could cause death or serious injury?

If you answered “yes” to at least one of these four questions, you have the legal right to ask the manufacturer to replace the lemon or refund the entire purchase price.

Send a certified letter to the automaker’s “Zone Office”. You can find the address in your owner’s manual, or ask your auto dealer. In the letter, list the problems you’ve had with the car, and what attempts have been made to correct them. Finally, your letter should indicate whether you want the car replaced or the refund for your full purchase price. Be sure to keep a photocopy of your letter for your records. Claims must be brought within five years of the date of the original delivery of the motor vehicle.

Will the Manufacturer Refund the Full Purchase Price of the Vehicle?

Once it is clear that your vehicle has not been fixed, the automaker must, at your option, give you a new vehicle or refund the “full purchase price”. That price includes all of the following:

  • The price for the car plus the costs for transportation, dealer preparation, delivery, dealer installed accessories, and other services.
  • The costs for financing and credit insurance, as well as any warranty and service charges.
  • Taxes and any other government charges, including state sales tax, license fees and registration fees.

Sometimes an automaker will agree with your claim and work to replace your lemon as quickly as possible. In most cases, the manufacturer will request an additional opportunity to repair the vehicle. They may try to negotiate a mutually satisfactory resolution with you. The manufacturer or dealer should advise you about an arbitration program available to informally resolve disputes. If you apply for arbitration, you should expect to wait several weeks for your hearing to be scheduled. Informal arbitration is, however, much faster and less formal than a court proceeding.

What Is Arbitration?

Arbitration allows a neutral third party to make a decision about your case based on the merits of the claim. The Attorney General’s Office has rules for approval of arbitration programs that are intended to ensure a their and timely resolution to the dispute.

All automakers participate in some kind of arbitration program. Some of these have been approved by the Attorney General, but others have not. If a program has been approved by the Attorney General, you must go through arbitration before you have the right to file a lawsuit. Contact the Attorney General’s Consumer Protection Section to learn which manufacturers have approved arbitration programs.

You can find information from your dealer or with the warranty materials explaining how to apply for arbitration. For approved arbitration programs, you have the right to request an oral hearing of your case. These hearings are frequently conducted by telephone conference call for the convenience of all parties.

Whether the arbitration program has been approved or not, decisions reached through arbitration are not binding on the consumer.

Should I Take My Case to Court?

If the automaker does not have an arbitration program approved by the Attorney General, or if you are unhappy with the outcome of the arbitration, you may want to take your case to court. You can file a civil suit to recover the total cost of the vehicle and any attorney’s fees you have incurred.

What Are the Responsibilities of the Manufacturer and the Dealer?

Manufacturers and dealers are required to provide more information to consumers than ever before. Manufacturers must provide this written statement to every new car buyer to inform you of your legal rights under Ohio’s Lemon Law.

IMPORTANT: If this vehicle is defective, you may be entitled under state law to a replacement or to compensation.

Dealers are required to give you a fully itemized, written work order each time you take your vehicle in for repairs or services even if the work is paid for under the manufacturer’s warranty. Work orders must list all the work performed, what parts were used, and the cost for parts and labor.

Is There Protection for Used Car Buyers?

If you are looking at buying a used car, keep in mind that Ohio’s Lemon Law does not apply to motor vehicles more than one year old or driven more than 18,000 miles.

Also keep in mind that lemons returned to the manufacturer or dealer can be resold to consumers only under certain conditions. A used car dealer must give you the following statement to read and sign before selling you a returned lemon.

IMPORTANT: This vehicle was returned to the manufacturer because it did not conform to the manufacturer’s express warranty and the nonconformity was not cured within a reasonable amount of time as provided by Ohio law.

The automaker must give you at least a 12 month, 12,000 mile warranty that offers the same coverage as the original new car warranty.

The notice and warranty are required even if the car was returned as a lemon under the law of another state. The notice and warranty serve as your warning that you are buying a vehicle returned as a lemon.

In addition, manufacturers must obtain certificate of titles for returned lemons that include the following disclosure:


Do I Have the Same Protection as a New Car Buyer?

A returned lemon buyer is NOT entitled to the same legal protection as a new car buyer. You are provided only with the fair warning notice and warranty protection described above.

If an automaker or its authorized dealer sells a returned lemon as a used vehicle without giving you the notice and the warranty, it could be a violation of the Consumer Sales Practices Act. If this is the case, Attorney General Montgomery can file a legal action against the automaker or its dealer for a refund of the purchase price and seek a civil penalty. You also have the right to file your own lawsuit to recover your money.

Any vehicle returned to the automaker for a problem that could cause death or serious injury may not be sold in the State of Ohio.

How Can I Protect Myself?

If you buy a new vehicle, please take the following precautions just in case it turns out to be a lemon. It will cost you nothing if you do. It could cost you thousands if you don’t.

Your best protection is good record keeping and an accurate maintenance history.

Keep all warranty and repair orders. Each order should contain a fully itemized list of repairs, show what the repairs cost, and include the length the car was in the shop. (Check every work order you receive to make sure it includes all the information, even if the work was done under warranty.

Write down your vehicle’s problems and defects. Give a copy of the list to the service person at the dealership. Any recurring problems should be described the same way each time you take the car back.

File repair records in the order they were received. Your files also should contain copies of all documents, repair orders, receipts, and other written information you have used to explain the problem to the service person.

Read and understand your owner’s manual. Follow the maintenance requirements. If the manufacturer can show that you have not maintained your car properly, you might not be eligible for a refund or replacement.

Where Can I Get More Information?

If you would like additional information, or for complete advice concerning your legal rights, click here to consult a Ohio Lemon Law attorney.

Most of the information on this page is provided by the state of Ohio, which this website is not affiliated with.

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confidential_informationThere may be instances where discussing your situation over a public forum could potentially compromise your interests. On these occasions we will contact you directly via email in order to answer your inquiry in a confidential manner.


  1. This RV has been in the shop 7 times in 10,000 miles and now has a front wheel bearing out and the AC pump is leaking oil
    When it had 3,000 miles it had to go to factory put new side on it, 4,400 miles on it it went back to factory it caught on fire no smoke alarms put new converter in it, 2,000 the slide got off track back to dealer, check engine light it has been to dealer 2 times and it is on now, the Hot Water tank has not worked since it was new it was to dealer but they did not fix it, the hydraulic jacks had to be fix they quit working other problems to many to mention

  2. I purchased a Cadillac CTS 2009 10/19/15 officially with a we owe agreement on check engine light and why water was coming through windshield they ganley Subaru said don’t worry will take care of it.
    They fixed leak, so they say what can I do worried that they re trying not to honor their word.

    you note Anthony Fry 216/324/5239.

  3. I got a car from a buy here, pay here lot. And a week later it doesn’t work. They will NOT fix or let me return the vehicle. I understand it wouldn’t fall under the lemon law but I’m still not sure on what to do.

    • Please inform me as well once you get an answer Nicole. I purchased a used vehicle and it broke down on me within hours. thardy570@gmaiI.com I hope there is something that can be done.

    • I bought a car from a buy here pay here lot with a 30 day 1,000 mile warranty and within that 1st month the check engine light came on. I returned car to the dealer and was told I needed a new gas cap. Every month after that the engine light came on, or flashed on and off; car kept shutting off; needed to be jumped; got towed at least 4x; even after purchasing a new alternator and a new battery. Finally; the car caught on fire in the exhaust sytem and burned the inside of the car 1month prior to having it one year. The dealership is not willing to accommodate or take any responsibility for selling a defective car. What recourse can I take or have to get satisfaction on my purchase?

    • I bought a car(2006 HHR LT) from a buy here pay here lot with a 30 day 1,000 mile warranty and within that 1st month the check engine light came on. I returned car to the dealer and was told I needed a new gas cap. Every month after that the engine light came on, or flashed on and off every day; car kept shutting off; needed to be jumped; got towed at least 4x; even after purchasing a new alternator; a new battery; have tune up an oil changes when needed. Finally; the car caught on fire in the exhaust sytem and burned the inside of the car 1month prior to having it one year. The dealership is not willing to accommodate or take any responsibility for selling a defective car. What recourse can I take or have to get satisfaction on my purchase?

  4. I bought my 2015 Tacoma New in Ohio. It has been in the dealerships service dept in Ohio twice, and now 5 times in two different dealerships in Florida, yet the same problem continues to occur. All the dealerships have agreed the truck is “within specs”, yet now this last dealership has had my truck (20,000 miles on it and it is 10 months old) for 3 days and says a new part has been ordered to be installed soon. I started reporting this problem at 5 days, 378 miles (it was driven to my dealership and had 312 miles when I bought it). If after this next “fix” the problem occurs again, do I report it as a lemon to Ohio, Florida, or just Toyota? Do I have a lemon? Seems like a lot of time in the shop for the same problem and no fix!

  5. Jacquelyn l Burriss

    My 2012 Equinox has been in the shop for warranty work work four times since March 2016 for various engine problems such as Pistons Rings valves timing chain timing chain guard excetera. do I have any options as far as a used lemon law in Ohio

  6. I leased a new (17 miles) Cadillac XT5 on May 7, 2016. The vehicle stopped on May 23, 2016 and was towed back to the Cadillac dealer. Since then they said they replaced a fuse, starter and transmission. On July 26, 2016 the service manager told me that the GM engineer told him to install a new engine. We have not had the vehicle since May 23, 2016 and it is now August 6, 2016. Under no circumstances do we want a new car that’s had it’s kidneys, liver and heart replaced. When we asked for copies of the service records we couldn’t get them because they were “incomplete.”
    How much longer do we wait. This is very frustrating.

  7. I bought a minivan and within 3 days found a multitude of broken items on it. I had the front start to vibrate and there was a badly worn tire on the passenger side. I bought new tires because I was told that was all it needed, the mechanics found the tie rod was ready to come off. I was told it was deadly. That was replaced. After that an alignment is needed. The mechanics took me in and showed me 2 places where the frame is rotted completely through. Now they will not give me a full refund or reimburse me for repairs to make it safe to drive

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