lemon law
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What is the Lemon Law?

You’ve probably heard of cars being called lemons. You may have even had someone reference the idea of a lemon law. Did you know that such a law actually exists? Moreover, it is in effect in every state. Lemon laws are designed to protect consumers from unscrupulous sellers. They do this by ensuring they have a remedy if what they buy turns out to be a piece of junk.

If you’ve ever had to deal with a car that is constantly in the shop or has numerous issues, you may have owned a lemon. If you’re in that situation now, you might wonder if there’s anything you can do. Here is some helpful information about lemon laws and what your next step should be.

What is a lemon law?

A lemon law is a state law that protects customers who buy cars and other products from items that fail to meet quality standards. Even though each state has developed their own lemon law, the basic idea is that the auto manufacturer must buy back any vehicle that has a serious defect, which can’t be repaired in a reasonable timeframe.

What is considered reasonable varies by state. The state law details the type of problem to be included, how long the vehicle is unavailable to the owner, and how many attempts at repair have been made. If the repairs cannot be successfully completed within the timeframe allowed, the manufacturer is required to repurchase the vehicle.

What may surprise a lot of people is that the dealership has no obligation with the lemon law. They don’t warranty the car; the manufacturer does. The lemon law goes beyond the vehicle’s warranty because it doesn’t just guarantee that the repair will be made at no cost to the owner; it provides for a buy-back if the vehicle cannot be repaired in a reasonable time.

What about used cars?

The term “lemon” is often used when a person buys a used car. You may wonder if these laws cover a pre-owned model. You might also wonder how you can protect yourself when purchasing a used model.

In most cases, the lemon law is limited to new vehicles. However, a few states do include used cars in their lemon laws. New York is one such state and allows you to get a refund of the purchase price or replacement vehicle. Only if the dealer fails to fix the same issue after three attempts to repair or the vehicle has been out of service for at least 15 days.

In Massachusetts, the used vehicle may have been purchased from a dealer or a private party and must cost at least $700. It must also have less than 125,000 miles at the time of the sale.

How to claim the lemon law

It’s critical that you know what applies in your own state’s lemon law. This will ensure you are covered if you purchase such a vehicle. The lemon laws provide the following information:

  •         What vehicles fall under the category of lemon
  •         How long you have to file a claim
  •         What proof you must provide

These laws also tell you what your options are in pursuing this remedy. For instance, in many states you have the option to have your vehicle replaced with a comparable model. Or get a refund of the full price of the vehicle, the sales tax, title and registration fees, and other fees and charges you have had, including interest on a car loan.

The law details how you can file a complaint if you believe you’ve purchased a lemon. Many times, you can file online, which saves time, or by mail. It is advised that you keep good written records of all repair attempts. In addition, maintain all documentation of any correspondence in trying to handle the problem.

Typically, motorcycles and motor homes are excluded. Some states limit the number of vehicles you can purchase in a year, which effectively removes certain businesses from utilizing the lemon law. The timeline also varies with states like Alabama giving you 24 months to file and Colorado and other states limiting it to one year.

If you begin having issues with your new or used vehicle, you should check the lemon law for your state. Make sure you document everything and seek legal counsel if the responsible party fails to meet the requirements for the law. It is possible to turn lemon into lemonade with a problem vehicle. 


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Joyce Morse Farinella
Hello! My name’s Joyce Morse Farinella and I’m a full-time writer who loves to research interesting and strange topics and explain them to others. I also enjoy hanging out with my daughter and being a foster parent. I love to travel and hang out at home, getting writing inspiration from both."

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    1. The lemon law application can be done easily. If your vehicle has been out of service for an issue, you might as well just get a rental so the car can be at the shop for however long or however many times necessary

    2. I didn’t even know Lemon was a legal term! This article was super informative and is something that i will always keep in mind

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