Does Your State Have Lemon Laws?

So, you finally took the leap, and instead of just window shopping for that new-to-you used car, you actually went down to the used car dealer and bought it. But, once you get it home and start driving, it refuses to work correctly. What you might have is a lemon. Thankfully, there are lemon laws in every state, so you might have some financial protection, but what does this mean?

What Are Lemon Laws?

To put it simply, lemon laws are regulations designed to protect consumers from defective products, including used cars. If you purchase a defective vehicle from a used car dealer, it’s often referred to as a lemon. Lemons do not meet their promised quality and usefulness, and if they can’t be repaired after several reasonable attempts, the manufacturer is required to replace them or repurchase them.

Do All States Have Lemon Laws?

Every state and the District of Columbia have lemon laws for new cars, but there are only six states with lemon laws for used cars. There are also federal lemon laws, but the laws vary from state to state. If you find that you’ve purchased a lemon, it’s important to find out the laws for your state and understand the federal protection you can get too.

What Exactly is a Lemon?

In most cases, lemons are new cars, but they can also be used cars too. If your car has a design or manufacturing defect that impacts its value or safety, it might be considered a lemon. While it’s estimated that only 1% of new vehicles are lemons, that small number doesn’t mean anything if you get one. In most states, a lemon must have a significant flaw or defect that’s covered by the warranty, and it must occur within a specific period, whether it’s a certain number of miles or within a certain time frame.
If it can’t be fixed after reasonable repair attempts, it may qualify under the lemon laws.

I Bought a Lemon, Now What?

Many reputable excellent used car dealers would never put you in that situation and have rigorous multi-point inspections that they conduct to ensure customer safety and satisfaction.

If you do encounter a situation, but if you do, here’s what to do:

It might take some time after you’ve left the used car dealer to see signs of a lemon, so the most important thing to do when you purchase a used car is to keep good records. Always save any repair receipts and records and hang on to communication between you and the dealership service center. This will help create a complete picture of the steps you took and the steps the dealership took.

Make sure you bring your vehicle to the dealership for repairs. If you go somewhere else, it might void the warranty. Without a valid warranty, you’re not eligible for compensation under the lemon laws. It might also help to research similar vehicles. Find out if there are any other problems with the same make, model, and year that you have.

Your next step is to file a claim by sending a formal letter to the company describing the problem, but the full claims process will depend on your state.


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