How Do I Know My Vehicle Is a Lemon?

Ways To Tell If Your Car Is a Lemon—
And What To Do About It

The lemon law is an American state law that serves the rights of car purchasers in the event that they have purchased a car that failed to meet quality and performance standards. Such cars are called lemons.


Traditionally, the rights afforded by the lemon laws can exceed the warranties expressed on the purchase contract.

State laws are filed under the Magnusson-Moss Warranty Act.

how to tell if car is a lemon woman standing next to problematic car on cell phone

All states have enacted their own warranty acts concerning lemon cars. Hence, the basis of being a lemon car varies from state to state.

What Is a Lemon Automobile or Car?

A lemon car is described as one that continues to have a defect that affects its use, safety and value even after a considerable number of attempts and reasonable efforts of repair have been done. The basis of being declaring a lemon vehicle depends on the specifics of your state's lemon law.

The lemon law determines the time and mileage limitations on declaring a lemon car. Lemon laws also dictate the rules on when you can present the defect of a purchased car the manufacturer or authorized dealer, for application of lemon law coverage.

In the event that the manufacturer fails to repair the reported defects of their newly sold vehicles within a reasonable number of repair attempts, you are entitled to a buyback (the manufacturer has to buy the vehicle from you) or vehicle replacement.

What the law considers a reasonable number of repair attempts depends on the state where the car purchase was made. Also, the term "reasonable number of repairs" varies depending on the defect of the vehicle.

In some states, if a newly bought vehicle has immediately apparent defect that poses substantial risk of death and serious body injuries if driven, and if the defect continues to exist after one repair attempt, that vehicle is already considered a "lemon."

Safety-related defects usually require fewer repair attempts than that required by non-safety defects. In addition, if a newly purchased car has been out of service for a considerable length of time due to repairs, usually 30 to 45 days, it may be also considered a "lemon."

Does the Lemon Law Apply to Used Cars?

A growing number of states have their lemon laws cover used cars, provided they are covered by a warranty. In addition, the law applies to purchases made with dealers and private sellers.

What To Do With a Lemon Car

If you think that your car is a lemon, immediately seek a legal lemon attorney who can advise you on the next steps you should take to apply for your state's lemon law coverage.

Next, gather your vehicle's documentation: its original purchase papers, warranty, current registration, and repair history or repair orders documents.

You also need to have a file of the correspondence you made with the vehicle manufacturer or dealer. Make sure that they are made through traceable mail services such as FedEx or USPS Registered. These documents will back up your claim that the vehicle you purchased is a lemon.

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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