The Car Lemon Law

If you purchase a new car you expect it to be right, this is the case 99 percent of the time; it is that last one percent that is problematic. If you have brake problems or the steering doesn’t seem to function properly that is one thing, if the rear view mirror is loose, that’s something else again. You have every right, of course, to believe that the car you bought is a lemon, but believing to be one does not necessarily mean that the law believes the same thing.

Each state has enacted a car lemon law, although consumer protection is the common goal, the laws do differ. There are a few commonalities however that are embedded in all state laws.

What qualifies as a lemon car?

Most state lemon laws are in sync on this; the car must have “substantial defect” that happens within a certain period of time after purchase and the defect continue after a “reasonable number” of attempts were made to fix it. The terms substantial defect and reasonable number are the things that tend to vary from one state to another.

What is a substantial defect?

A substantial defect is one which is inherent in the car, not something that was caused by the owner after the car was purchased. This defect must impair:

  • The safety of the vehicle
  • The value of the vehicle, and
  • The usage of the vehicle

If you are of the opinion that; based on this definition you have a lemon, you must act quickly as you are given only a certain period of time or a certain number of miles to lodge a complaint.

Reasonable number of attempts to repair the problem:

Under the car lemon law you must grant the manufacturer or dealer a number of chances to fix the defect; four is thought to be reasonable. If the problem persists, the car may be declared a lemon under the law.

The car lemon law is designed to protect consumers from having to keep a new car that has a defect that cannot be repaired. For information on the car lemon law in your state, you are invited to visit

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