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Lemon Law Guides / State Lemon Law Statutes

State Lemon Law statutes for all 50 states. Is your car a lemon? See how your State defines what a lemon is and if your car and its repair history qualify.

Nearly all State Lemon Law Statutes are similar to the Federal Magnuson-Moss Warranty Act which makes breach of warranty a violation of federal law.  All States have enacted their own Warranty Acts and many States have enacted specific Statutes that pertain to Automobile Warranties. If your car is not considered a "lemon" in your State, you do have other recourses.


 
What is a Lemon?
 

A vehicle that continues to have a defect that substantially impairs its use, value, or safety is what is typically known to consumers as a "lemon". Generally, if the car has been repaired an unreasonable number of times for the same defect within the Warranty period, and the defect has not been fixed, the car qualifies as a Lemon. All States differ so you should consult the Lemon Law Summary and the State Statutes (links shown above) for your particular State. Some states have vehicles qualify by a set number of days out of service in the dealers shop for warranty work and/or waiting on warranty parts for the repair. Note that the warranty period may or may not coincide with the Manufacturer's Warranty.

Do I have a Lemon?
 

In the most general sense, if your vehicle has problems that have substantially affected your ability to use the vehicle in a normal fashion, whether by a mechanical issue and/or safety issue, and there has been an unreasonable number of repair attempts under warranty to remedy the problem/defect, your vehicle may be considered in your state to be a “lemon”. Some states have as little as 2 repair attempts if the defect is likely to result in serious injury or death.

Typical examples of vehicle problems that do not typically qualify as "substantial impairment" under state lemon laws are: wind noises, tire noise, problems stemming from non-factory approved (aftermarket) equipment, etc.

In most States, many different defects during the Warranty Period does not brand the car as a Lemon. In some States, a single defect that might cause Serious Injury makes your car a Lemon if the manufacturer cannot fix the problem within 1 attempt in some states in certain circumstances

You may have a Lemon, but if you do nothing to protect your Consumer Rights, such as documenting your warranty repairs and allowing the Manufacturer a chance to fix the problem(s), you could lose all rights under the various State Warranty Acts.

Do I need a Lawyer?
 

The answer depends upon which State you Purchased and Registered your car in. In some States and with proper documentation, you simply file a Complaint. In other States, you will need to hire an Attorney. Some states, such as California, allow active Military personnel who purchase outside of California, but then move to California, to qualify under California’s State Lemon Law as though they had purchased it in California.

Who pays the Lawyer?
 

Only some States allow you to recover Attorney Fees. If your Attorney sues under the Magnuson-Moss Warranty Act, you will be awarded Attorney Fees if you win. Note that an Attorney's Fee is based upon actual time expended rather than being tied to any percentage of the recovery. In some States, you must pay the manufacturer's Attorney Fees if you lose. Some states require arbitration before hiring a lawyer, other states such as California do not. California is an example of a state that “shifts” the responsibility of attorney’s fees to the automobile manufacturer.

Is a Used or Leased Car protected?
 

It depends upon which State the car was purchased or leased in. Some states include used and leased cars in their Lemon Law statutes. Some states have separate laws for used vehicles. Some states provide protection only for new cars. Please see the section on this website for the Lemon Law in your particular state. Some states, such as California, require the dealer to post a “BUYER GUIDE” on the vehicle, delineating whether vehicle is being provided with a written warranty, or is being sold “AS-IS” with no warranty expressed or implied.

What about Motorhomes and Motorcycles?
 

Most States cover the drive train portion of Motor Homes (that part which is not used for dwelling purposes). Motorcycles are generally not covered but a few states do include them in their lemon law statutes. Some states lemon law cover the entire coach, and not limiting to drive train (powertrain) only.

If you have a defective Motorcycle, Motorhome, used car, leased car, or a car used for business purposes and your State Lemon Law does not cover these vehicles, you still have other recourses such as the Uniform Commercial Code and the Federal Magnuson-Moss Warranty Act (providing you were given a written warranty). Consult with an Attorney that specializes in this area. Some states such as California limit the number of motor driven vehicles (of all kind) to 5 registered vehicles limit.


Tips to Protect your Vehicle Investment

  • Often times the vehicle owner doesn’t suspect their car of being a Lemon until it is too late (out of warranty, over the mileage limit, etc.) If you keep a record of every repair visit, starting with the first one, you will protect your rights under Consumer Laws. IF you did not keep copies of your repair records, you can ask the dealership Service Advisor to reprint them for you. If it’s been too long, you can request what is known as a “warranty repair history summary printout”. You must show proof of vehicle ownership to receive this. Some states “continue” the consumers warranty rights after expiration of warranty is the same problem that was fixed up to the expiration of warranty has not remedied the problem, and the consumer continues to bring it in for the same warranty issue.

  • Document everything! This includes notes, who you talk to, what is said, dates and times. Put your complaints in writing and keep a copy for yourself. Be sure to obtain a copy of any Warranty Repair Orders. Demand a copy if necessary and if the dealer will not give you one, be sure to document the fact. When you pick up your car, obtain an Invoice. The dealer may claim that you are not entitled to an Invoice because there were no charges (you were not invoiced for any repairs). It is up to you to prove repair attempts! The final Invoice shows what was or was not repaired, and technical notes.

  • Make absolutely sure the dealer records your complaint on the Repair Order exactly as you describe it. You must make sure to describe the defect with the same complaint description on each repair visit for the same/like issue or you may forfeit your rights under the "reasonable attempts to repair for the same defect" clause.

  • Be sure that the date, time in, and odometer reading are recorded as well as the date and time you picked up the car. In many States you are covered by the Lemon Law if the vehicle has been in the repair shop for an accumulative number of days during the coverage period.

  • If your car fails on a roadway/freeway. etc., as soon as it is safe to do so, record the date and time, the specifics of what happened (example: "vehicles’ engine stalled") , whether or not you had to rent a car, etc. If your vehicle requires towing, it is a good idea to follow the vehicle into the dealership and have a warranty Repair Order written with descriptive notes of what took place, and where, and that the vehicle was towed-in.

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