Understanding How Lemon Car Laws Actually Work

Lemon Car Laws

If you’ve ever bought a brand-new car, you know the thrill of vehicle ownership. From the famed new car smell to the sleek shine of the flawless paint job, there’s something exciting about getting behind the wheel of your ride for the first time.

Of course, all of that excitement can turn sour if you notice a flaw with your pricey purchase. From power steering issues to odd sounds in the engine, the last thing you want is a faulty ride.

That’s where lemon car laws come in. Designed to protect anyone seeking car ownership, these laws can help you get compensation for your purchase. Whether you’re a first-time car buyer or a seasoned driver, here’s what to know about these state laws.

What Are Lemon Car Laws?

Lemon laws vary from state to state, but each will have a version of this legislation.

Essentially, these laws state that if a vehicle has a serious defect that the manufacturer can’t fix, the buyer can file a claim requiring the manufacturer to refund or replace the vehicle. 

What Cars Qualify as “Lemons?”

Again, each state will outline the nuances of their definition of a “lemon” in their legislation. However, in general, there are a few factors that impact a vehicle’s ability to qualify:

A Substantial Defect

Vehicles that qualify as lemons must have a major defect covered under the manufacturer’s warranty. Examples of these defects can include things like faulty steering or major issues with the braking system.

However, because each state’s laws are different, you might find that the things considered “substantial” defects will differ from place to place. Even minor issues like a defective paint job can count in some cases!

Attempts to Solve the Problem

Because lemon laws are designed to encourage manufacturers to repair faulty vehicles, vehicles can only be ruled “lemons” after the manufacturers have a chance to make repairs. In some states, cars will qualify as lemons after they’ve been sitting in the shop for a set time frame. In others, cars only qualify after a set number of repair attempts.

A Predefined Period or Number of Miles

Last, but not least, it’s worth noting that a car can only qualify as a lemon if the buyer files a claim within set limitations. In some states, this means filing a claim within a specified period of time after the purchase; in others, it means filing a claim before driving a specified number of miles.

How Do You Make a Claim?

If you feel as if your vehicle qualifies as a lemon in your state, you’ll have to notify the manufacturer. From there, you can either settle with them or arbitrate in court.

If your car doesn’t qualify as a lemon, you still have options available to you. Depending on the issue at hand, you may be able to resell the car. Otherwise, you can sell to a company offering cash for junk cars, or you can donate the vehicle to charity.

Protect Yourself From a Bad Purchase

No one likes to learn that they’ve gotten a bad deal, especially when it’s on something as pricey as a new vehicle. However, your state’s lemon car laws can protect you from serious manufacturing defects that arise as you start to test-drive your new ride. With the right legal recourse, you can ensure you get the vehicle you paid for—or your money back.

Want more auto tips like these? Whether you’re hunting for your first car or your latest upgrade, our guides are packed with plenty of insights to keep you and your wallet protected.