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What is a Lemon Law?

Aug 3


Have you ever heard of the term "lemon" in context to a car? No, it doesn't mean the car is yellow or citrusy! In the world of consumer law, a "lemon" is a vehicle that, no matter how many repairs are made, continues to have a defect that impairs its use, value, or safety. So, what's the solution? This is where the Lemon Law steps in. But before we get ahead of ourselves, let's take a step back to where it all started.

What is a Lemon Law?

Definition and Function

In layman's terms, a Lemon Law is a state law that provides a remedy for purchasers of cars to compensate for cars that repeatedly fail to meet standards of quality and performance. These laws are designed to protect consumers from seriously flawed vehicles.

Types of Lemon Laws

Lemon laws can be applied to both new and used cars, although the specifics can vary.

Used Car Lemon Laws

Certain states have specific laws for used vehicles. These laws cover repairs needed within a certain time period after purchase. However, these used car laws aren't as comprehensive as those for new cars.

New Car Lemon Laws

These laws pertain to new cars, leased vehicles, and in some cases, used cars that are still under warranty. If the car continues to have the same problem despite several attempts at repair, it could be labeled a lemon.

How Lemon Laws Work?

The Process

Lemon laws require the manufacturer, not the dealership, to refund or replace a vehicle if it has a serious warranty defect that isn't fixed within a reasonable number of attempts.

Lemon Law Criteria

The specific criteria can vary, but in general, a car is considered a lemon if the same problem persists after a certain number of repair attempts, typically three or four, and the problem significantly impairs the car's value, use, or safety.

Lemon Laws by Country

United States

In the US, all 50 states have their own version of the lemon law. The details vary, but the principles remain the same.

State-specific Lemon Laws

For example, in California, a car is considered a lemon if it has been repaired at least twice for a life-threatening defect or four times for other substantial defects within 18 months of purchase, and the problems persist.


In Europe, the European Consumer Centre (ECC) provides similar protections to consumers who purchase a defective car.


Australian Consumer Law also covers consumers for goods that are not of acceptable quality or unfit for their disclosed purpose, including cars.

How to Use Lemon Laws to Your Advantage?

Steps to Take if You Have a Lemon

First, it's crucial to keep a record of all repairs and maintenance. If you believe your car is a lemon, consult with a lawyer who specializes in lemon laws. You could be eligible for a replacement or refund.

Common Misconceptions About Lemon Laws

One common myth is that lemon laws only apply to new cars. While it's true that protections are more comprehensive for new vehicles, used cars can also be covered under certain circumstances.


Understanding Lemon Laws can save you a lot of headaches and potentially a lot of money. They offer a shield of protection, allowing you to get the best bang for your buck and ensure that your shiny new purchase doesn't leave a sour taste in your mouth.

Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs)

1. Can I return a lemon car?

Yes, if your car is declared a lemon, you could be eligible for a replacement or a refund.

2. Does a lemon law apply to used cars?

Yes, but the specifics can vary from state to state.

3. How many repairs make a car a lemon?

Typically, if the same problem persists after three or four repair attempts, a car can be considered a lemon.

4. Do lemon laws apply to private sellers?

Typically, no. Lemon laws usually apply to purchases made from a car dealership.

5. How long does a lemon law claim take?

The process can take a few months. It largely depends on the specific case and your state’s laws.


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