What Are Car Lemon Laws?

The US federal government as well as all the states in the Union has enacted a car lemon law that provides the purchaser of a car later found to be defective with a remedy. Although lemon laws also apply to other consumer products, when used it normally applies to vehicles which fail to meet standards of quality, reliability and performance.

The source of the federal lemon law is the Magnuson-Moss Warranty Act which dates back to 1975. This law was enacted to protect consumers in every state. Since then the states have written their own version of the car lemon law, these various state laws are somewhat similar, they all define what they cover and what the policies are for determining the outcome of a claim. The majority of state laws cover new purchased vehicles only while some cover used cars and leased cars as well. The Magnuson-Moss Warranty Act covers predominately mechanical defects inherent in the vehicle while variations in state laws often make them more expansive and inclusive.

Lemon laws usually exceed the protection offered by and described in the vehicle warranty. Even though the car lemon law varies considerably based on the specific jurisdiction, the general concepts are similar. The product, in this case a car, must be purchased with a warranty; without a warranty the purchase is not eligible for lemon law protection. If the car is purchased “as-is” this constitutes an express agreement between seller and buyer, the buyer knows the condition of sale and assumes the risk that the vehicle may have defects. This being the case, the buyer by default, loses any right to recover any losses.

Generally speaking, to be declared a lemon a vehicle must have a problem or problems that are covered by the vehicle warranty and seriously impair the safety of the vehicle, its intended use as well as its value.

The car lemon law is available relief for a specific time period; this also varies from one state to another. Typically the owner must give the vehicle manufacturer a number of opportunities to fix the problem permanently and the problem must be reported within a certain time. Typically the owner must report the problem within the first year and the manufacturer must be given three or four chances to fix the problem. The car lemon law also applies if the vehicle was out of commission and in for repairs for an aggregate number of days, usually thirty.

Lemon laws vary considerably depending on where the car was purchased and/or where you live. For in-depth information on the car lemon law that applies in your state you are encouraged to visit lemonlawamerica.com.


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