What Should I Do With My Lemon Car?

When a tree drops you lemons, you make lemonade. When a car dealer gives you a lemon, what do you do with your lemon car? You make a fast and decisive lemon law complaint that will get you a settlement and a properly functioning vehicle to go along with it!

Lemon Origins

The word "lemon" was used to describe folks in the 1800s who were simply unpleasant; over time the same term came to be used to define anything that was not in working order. Currently, "lemon" is used primarily to describe cars, trucks, motorcycles, and recreational vehicles that were sold in less than proper working order to unwitting customers who thought they were getting a dependable car.

There is a lemon law for motorized vehicles in all fifty states, and with good reason. Every year thousands of lemons are reported.

Lemon Laws—What Do They Cover?

A lemon vehicle is defined as one that, when purchased, requires many repairs of the same problem, and usually to systems that may be life-threatening if they don't work properly. These include the engine, transmission, and brakes.

Manufacturers used to get away with this until the federal lemon law was finally passed, and these same manufacturers were made to answer for the things that they had done.

Can My Car Insurance Company Help?

Insurance companies do not have anything like the lemon law. However, if you bought insurance for your lemon, you can attempt to get your money back during the court proceedings.

This is very important to remember, because you want to get all of the money back that you possibly can, and if possible, obtain a new vehicle.

What Can I Do With My Lemon Car?

When your realize your car is a lemon, you have to act fast. The manufacturer is allowed 3 to 4 attempts to repair the problem, usually within a 12 month period. If it's still not fixed, it's time to file a lemon law complaint.

Each time you take your car in for repairs, save any and all paperwork, including receipts, estimates, and anything else pertaining to the vehicle and the attempts to repair each system that malfunctions.

It's also important that, during the 12 month window you allow for repairs, you request, in writing, that the manufacturer perform repairs. I recommend that you do that every time the vehicle requires a repair.

And be sure to require a signature when the manufacturer receives your notice, so that you have documented proof that they received it.

When you go to court, you need to be able to show the repair receipts and show that you made a valid attempt to have the vehicle repaired, including informing the manufacturer of the problem.

If the dealer can't remedy the problem, and the manufacturer will not replace the vehicle or refund what you paid for it, you'll have to file a lemon law claim against the manufacturer.

Next Steps—Lemon Law Case Preparation

When you're ready to move forward with your case, with all of your paperwork together, then you have one more step to take—get yourself a lawyer. A normal lawyer would probably do an okay job, but I recommend that you hire a lemon law lawyer.

These lawyers specialize in the lemon laws in each individual state. You can get in touch with one of them by word-of-mouth referrals, checking out the Yellow Pages, or searching online via Dex Online or other Yellow Pages equivalent. Or use your favorite search engine.

Do I Need a Lemon Law Attorney?

The biggest advantage of hiring a lemon law lawyer is that this professional knows the lemon laws inside and out, and may take your case for free, getting the vehicle manufacturer to pay your legal fees. For that reason, I highly recommend that you seek out the services of a lemon law attorney, and skip the hefty fees of other types of lawyers.

The law in each state is very different, and to get specifics you will want to do an internet search, look for more information on Lemon Law Types, and speak to your law firm or legal representative.


Regardless of what state you reside in, many people have purchased lemons in the past, and many people have been very angry about it, which is why the lemon law was created. Each state's specifics are different though.

In some states you'll find that this law only covers cars, and in others you will find that it covers cars and motorcycles, while in other states you'll find that it covers all types of vehicles, including recreational vehicles (RVs, or motorhomes), all-terrain vehicles (ATVs), used autos, boats, appliances, computers, wheelchairs, hearing aids, live animals/pets, and now even regular houses!

Whichever state you reside in, you'll find that some kind of lemon law coverage is available for you to take advantage of.

If you do buy a vehicle that you consider a lemon, you do not have to suffer in silence. You have legal recourse, and there are people who are willing to help you get the justice that you deserve.

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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