Consumer Lemon Law

US Lemon Law: A Guide for New and Used Vehicles

The US Lemon Law, known as the Magnuson-Moss Warranty Act, was enacted in 1975 to protect consumers nationwide, ensuring manufacturers honor warranties. 

The law was a result of several consumer complaints about defective motor vehicles. 

The purpose is to make warranties transparent and enforceable and to protect consumers from deceptive warranty practices. 

The first state-specific Lemon Law was established in California in 1970, called the Song-Beverly Consumer Warranty Act.

Here at Consumer Lemon Law, our advocates understand how it feels when you realize your vehicle could be a Lemon. We are ready to help you find a Lemon Law attorney near you. Call or fill in our form today.

What is The US Lemon Law?

The Lemon Law protects buyers who purchased a defective new or used vehicle.  If the defect impairs its use, safety or affects its value, then it’s a lemon. 

The Federal Lemon Law, known as the Magnuson Moss Warranty Act, in conjunction with your State Lemon Law, can get your defective vehicle repaired, replaced, or get a refund plus have your attorney fees covered.

What constitutes a Lemon?

A vehicle is typically considered a lemon if it has a substantial defect that is covered by a warranty and remains unfixed after several repair attempts. The criteria for a car to be deemed a lemon include:

 Repeated Repairs:

Your new vehicle has undergone multiple repairs under warranty for the same defect or issue and the problem persists.

✅ Significant Defect:

The defect must significantly affect the car’s use (how it drives), value (its market worth), or safety (the safety of the driver and passengers).

The defect must occur within a certain period or mileage from the purchase (e.g., within 18 months or 18,000 miles).

✅ Duration in Repair:

Your vehicle has been in the repair shop for an extended period (specific duration might vary by state lemon laws average 30 days+) without a successful fix.

✅ Manufacturer’s Failure to Fix:

The vehicle must have undergone a certain number of repair attempts (usually three or four) without success.

State-specific Lemon Laws

Each state has its unique set of lemon laws. For instance:

  • California Lemon Law: Applies to new vehicles under warranty. The defect must substantially affect the use, safety, or value of the vehicle and not result from unauthorized use. The state has a buyback option that you can choose, use our California Lemon Law Buyback Calculator to figure out how much you will get back.
  • New Jersey Lemon Law: The state gives manufacturers one chance to repair a serious defect that affects the vehicle’s safety before invoking the Lemon Law. 
  • Texas Lemon Law: Includes provisions for both new and used vehicles, with specific criteria for the number of repair attempts and the duration the vehicle is out of service.
  • Illinois is known for having the worst Lemon Law protection because its coverage is only for the first 12 months or 12,000 miles. 
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Why do we need the Lemon Law in the United States?

The Federal Lemon law serves as a deterrent for unscrupulous business practices, encouraging companies to prioritize quality and customer satisfaction.

In essence, this legal remedy contributes to maintaining a fair and balanced marketplace by safeguarding the interests of both buyers and sellers within a four-year lemon law rights period from the date of purchase.

Used Car Lemon Law

The Used Car Lemon Law refers to legal protections for consumers who purchase or lease used cars that turn out to be defective, commonly known as “lemons.”

The specifics of these laws can vary by state, but here are some general aspects:

🚗 Limited to Certain States: As of 2021, only seven states have specific lemon laws for used cars: Connecticut, California, Massachusetts, Minnesota, New Jersey, New Mexico, and New York.

🚗 Purpose of the Law: The primary goal of these laws is to provide a legal remedy for buyers or lessees of used cars that are found to be defective after purchase.

🚗 Eligibility and Coverage: The eligibility for protection under these laws often depends on factors such as the age of the vehicle, mileage, and the nature of the defects. 

🚗 Remedies Available: Remedies under used car lemon laws may include repair, replacement, or refund. The specifics depend on the state’s legislation and the individual case.

🚗 Federal Law Consideration: While US federal laws primarily cover new car purchases, certain protections may extend to used cars, especially if they are still under the original manufacturer’s warranty.

It’s important to note that the details and application of used car lemon laws can vary significantly from state to state.

Lemon Law criteria

Used Car Lemon Law: Exclusions and Limitations

Below is a focused summary of the exclusions or exceptions under the Magnuson-Moss Warranty Act specifically for the Used Car Lemon Law:

Implied Warranties for Used Cars:

The Act acknowledges two primary implied warranties for used cars.

  • Implied Warranty of Merchantability: This ensures the used car will function as expected for a vehicle of its type and price range.
  • Implied Warranty of Fitness for a Particular Purpose: This applies when a buyer relies on the seller’s advice that a used car can serve a specific purpose.

Duration of Implied Warranties:

These warranties do not guarantee that a used car will last for a set period. They only assure that the car will function as expected for a vehicle of its kind.

“As Is” Sales:

In states where allowed, sellers can disclaim implied warranties by selling the used car “as is.” This means the seller isn’t responsible if the car has issues. However, the seller must clearly inform buyers about the “as is” status.

  1. Federal Restrictions on “As Is” Sales: If sellers offer a written warranty on the used car or if they sell a service contract for it, federal law prohibits them from disclaiming implied warranties.
  2. Liability with “As Is” Sales: Even if a used car is sold “as is,” the seller might still be liable if the car is found to be dangerously defective or causes personal injury.
  3. State-Specific Rules:Some states do not permit the sale of used cars “as is.” In such states, implied warranties cannot be disclaimed.

For those dealing with used car warranties, it’s crucial to be aware of both the federal act and specific state lemon laws that might have additional provisions or restrictions.

Stop driving a lemon

When to Consult a Lemon Law Lawyer

Navigating lemon laws can be complex, especially since they are state-specific and subject to change. Consulting a lemon law lawyer is advisable in cases where:

  • The dealership is responsible for reviewing the lemon law claim.
  • The legal terminology in the laws is intricate and requires professional interpretation.
  • The case involves breach of warranty, fraud, or deceptive sales practices.

Fee-Shifting Provision

Many lemon laws include a fee-shifting provision, which transfers the cost of attorney’s fees from the plaintiff to the manufacturer. This makes it financially feasible for consumers to seek legal assistance.

In states with large motor vehicle populations, such as California, Texas, and Florida, there are firms that specialize in lemon law and related consumer protection laws.

Finding the Right Lemon Law Attorney

When faced with a lemon law case, it’s crucial to find a Lemon Law attorney who specializes in this field.

Look for a local lemon law office with a track record of handling such cases effectively.

In states with large motor vehicle populations, such as California, Texas, and Florida, there are firms that specialize in lemon law and related consumer protection laws.

Lemon Law - Magnuson-Moss-Warranty-Act

The Magnuson Moss Warranty Act

The Lemon Law is an umbrella term encompassing various state and federal laws aimed at safeguarding buyers’ rights when making automobile purchases.

While specific provisions differ from state to state, the Magnuson Moss Warranty Act provides guidelines for determining what constitutes a lemon and outlines the remedies available to affected buyers according to federal law.

The law allows a vehicle manufacturer to address any vehicle defects within a reasonable number of repair attempts by the manufacturer. 

Definition of the Magnuson Moss Warranty Act

The Act was designed to ensure consumers receive complete information about warranty terms and conditions, understand their rights under warranties, and get the promised warranty coverage for consumer products.

This act serves as a Federal Lemon law on which State Lemon Laws can be based. Below are some key provisions:

Written Warranties: The Act authorizes the Federal Trade Commission (FTC) to develop regulations for written warranties.

Disclosure Standards: It directs the FTC to establish standards for the disclosure of written warranties.

Full Warranty Standards: The Act specifies what constitutes a “full” warranty.

Limitation on Disclaimers: It limits the ability to disclaim implied warranties.

US Lemon Law Frequently Asked Questions

The US Lemon law is a statute adopted in all states to make it easier for a buyer of a new, or in some states used vehicle, to sue for damages or replacement if the dealer or manufacturer cannot make it run properly after a reasonable number of attempts to fix it. 

California’s Lemon Law represents has the strongest Lemon Law.  States such as Washington and New Jersey are a close second in protecting consumers with recourse when purchasing faulty automobiles.

Based on the information from the Magnuson-Moss Warranty Act, all 50 states in the U.S. have their own version of the Lemon Law. However, the specifics of the law, such as the duration of protection, the number of repair attempts, and the types of vehicles covered, can vary from state to state.

The New York State Lemon Law covers defective vehicles under warranty that after at least 3 opportunities to fix the defect, the issue persists

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