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How Does the Lemon Law Work?
Is There a Time Limit to Pursue a Lemon Law Claim?
What If My Vehicle Repair Record Shows No Problems?
What Is a ‘Lemon’?
What Is a Reasonable Number of Repair Attempts?
What Does the Lemon Law Cover?
What Are Lemon Laws?
How Does a Car Qualify for Lemon Law Protections?
How Long Does a Lemon Law Case Take?
Do I Need a Lawyer for a Lemon Law Case?
Is the Lemon Law a Federal Law?
The first step in any Lemon Law case is always noticing a defect and bringing it to the manufacturer or one of its authorized dealers for repair. If the manufacturer fails to repair the defect on that first attempt, the vehicle may already qualify as a lemon. However, in most cases, you’ll need to provide the manufacturer with at least one more repair attempt before pursuing compensation.
Still, it’s in your best interest to contact an attorney as soon as you suspect you may have a lemon. The sooner you act, the greater your chance of success. And with free case reviews, you have nothing to lose by consulting an attorney.
Once you’ve provided the manufacturer with a reasonable number of repair attempts, the next step is often arbitration. Rather than immediately filing a lawsuit, most states require you to try resolving the matter informally. To do so, your attorney will help you gather evidence to support your claim and present it to an arbitration panel.
After reviewing the evidence from both sides, the panel will issue a ruling as to what compensation you deserve, if any. If you’re unhappy with the panel’s decision, you may file a lawsuit to bring your claim to the courts. However, with an experienced Lemon Law attorney in your corner, the manufacturer will almost certainly settle instead of going to trial.
In most states, the manufacturer is even required to pay your attorneys’ fees when you win your case. So, if you think you have a lemon, it’s in your best interest to seek professional representation. Doing so greatly increases your chances of a successful recovery. And as a bonus, the manufacturer who sold you the lemon will likely need to pay more for its mistake.
At Krohn & Moss, Ltd. Consumer Law Center®, more than 99% of the cases we handle settle before going to trial. And with more than 50,000 success stories to our name, we’re very confident in our abilities to get our clients the compensation they deserve.
Yes, Lemon Law claims are subject to statutes of limitation, like most laws. These differ wildly from state to state. But the Magnuson-Moss Warranty Act, which applies in all states, allows you to file a claim for up to four years after your warranty was breached. For vehicles, this generally means you have four years to file a claim after the first failed repair attempt.
When you purchase a vehicle from a dealer or take one in for repairs, there’s a trail of documentation that you never see. This includes everything from your customer copies and warranty payment documents to dealership bookkeeping and hard copies.
The hard copy, for example, contains the original notes made by the mechanic who inspected and/or signed off on your vehicle. In some instances, you will find the phrase “Could Not Duplicate Customer Concern” stamped on the customer copy, while the hard copy often contains notes made by the mechanic that clearly state the opposite.
Not only does this leave your vehicle in need of repairs, but it also sends you back out on the road with a potentially dangerous vehicle. By carefully sourcing and investigating all existing paperwork, our attorneys can detect whether or not any vehicle problems were noted upon acceptance. So even if your repair records show no problems, you may still have a case.
In the context of the Lemon Law, a lemon is a consumer vehicle with a defect that continues to exist after a “reasonable number of repair attempts.” The exact origin of the term is up for debate, but a Volkswagen ad from the 1960s cemented it into our vocabulary. One likely explanation for the term is that both lemon vehicles and the citrus fruits leave a sour taste in your mouth.
Before a vehicle can be deemed a lemon, you must give the manufacturer a reasonable number of attempts to resolve the issue. Although every state’s laws vary, most provide manufacturers with at least 3 chances to do so. In some states, a single repair attempt may be sufficient to deem a car a lemon, especially if the defect affects the safety of the vehicle.
Most states also qualify vehicles as lemons if any number of repair attempts keep the vehicle out of service for a total of 30 days. However, those 30 days out of service must take place within a set time period, often the first 12, 18, or 24 months after the original purchase date. To find out how your state defines a “reasonable number of repair attempts,” visit the specific state page on our site.
Lemon Laws cover vehicle “nonconformities,” which is a fancy way of saying “defects.” Practically all new vehicles come with a written warranty that acts as a promise from the manufacturer to repair vehicles that exhibit a defect in materials or workmanship. If the manufacturer, by and through its authorized dealers, fails to repair any such defective component as promised, the company will have broken the promise that the warranty obligates it to honor. Thus, the defective component would be considered a “nonconformity” and would likely be covered by the Lemon Law.
Most states’ lemon laws apply only to consumer vehicles with nonconformities that substantially impair the vehicle’s use, market value, or safety. But the Magnuson-Moss Warranty Act covers any consumer product that costs more than $10. Plus, this federal Lemon Law covers any warrantied defect, not just those that cause substantial impairment.
Lemon Laws hold manufacturers responsible for the defective vehicles they sell. In the U.S., every state has its own Lemon Law, and the Magnuson-Moss Warranty Act serves as a federal Lemon Law. Thanks to these laws, consumers who purchase a lemon can seek compensation, which amounts to a refund or replacement vehicle in many cases.
Although the Lemon Law differs from state to state, most use similar guidelines to determine which vehicles qualify. Typically, the vehicle must have a defect that substantially impairs its use, value, or safety. The defect must be reported to the manufacturer while the vehicle is still under warranty and must persist after a “reasonable number of repair attempts.”
To learn more about the specific Lemon Law in your state, click on the “Select Your State” dropdown menu at the top of this page. Or, visit our page dedicated to the Magnuson-Moss Warranty Act to learn more about the federal Lemon Law, which provides broader coverage than many of the state laws.
Every Lemon Law case is different. So, estimates as to their duration have a large margin of error. However, most cases are resolved in a matter of months rather than weeks or years. The consumer often determines how long the case will take because only they can decide whether or not to accept a settlement offer.
While you may attempt to go it alone, most of our 50,000+ clients have told us that they’d hit brick walls attempting to resolve their lemon law case on their own. So, you’re far more likely to prevail with an experienced attorney representing you. Car companies rely on high-priced legal teams to avoid paying every claim they can. You can level the playing field with a lawyer of your own to assist with your claim, who will greatly increase your chances of success.
Plus, in most cases, you’ll never pay a penny out of pocket to hire a lawyer for a Lemon Law case. The federal Lemon Law, and most states’ lemon laws, include fee-shifting provisions to force the manufacturer to pay your attorneys’ fees when you win. And at Krohn & Moss, Ltd., we only charge for our services when we secure compensation for our clients.
With that in mind, there really is no compelling reason to pursue a Lemon Law claim without a lawyer. So, contact us today for a free case review to get started on your case!
Yes and no. Lemon laws are a type of law rather than a specific statute, much like family law or contract law. In the U.S., every state has its own Lemon Law. And the Magnuson-Moss Warranty Act acts as a federal Lemon Law, protecting consumers nationwide. So yes, there is federal Lemon Law, but there are also lemon laws in each of the 50 states.
Does Lemon Law Apply to Used Vehicles?
Does the Lemon Law Apply to Leased Cars?
Do Lemon Laws Apply to RVs?
Do Lemon Laws Apply to Private Party Sales?
Is the Lemon Law Only for Cars?
Does the Lemon Law Apply to Cars Sold As-Is?
Does the Lemon Law Apply to Semi Trucks?
Does the Lemon Law Apply to Commercial Vehicles?
Does the Lemon Law Apply to Motorcycles?
The Magnuson-Moss Warranty Act makes no distinction between new and used vehicles. Thus, the federal Lemon Law applies to any used vehicles that meet the Act’s definition of a lemon. This means that the vehicle must have a defect that was reported during the warranty period and still exists after a reasonable number of repair attempts.
State-specific lemon laws often treat used vehicles in a similar manner in that they don’t distinguish between new and used vehicles. Instead, these laws typically declare that repair attempts must occur within a certain period of time after the original owner takes possession of the vehicle. However, some states specifically excluded used vehicles from protection under their Lemon Law.
So, if you purchase a 10-year-old used car, your State’s Lemon Law probably won’t apply. But if your vehicle was still fairly new when you purchased it, there’s a good chance it will qualify. And in every state, the federal Lemon Law applies to both new and used car purchases. Just know that the statutes of limitations for these laws are based on the date that the original owner takes possession of the vehicle.
Yes, both federal and state lemon laws apply to purchased AND leased cars. The only real difference in such cases is the compensation. If you choose to accept a refund for a lemon that you leased, the amount you receive will generally be based on what you paid, not the purchase price of the vehicle.
Yes, many states’ lemon laws apply to the motor vehicle portion of RVs, campers, and motor homes. This means the laws apply to defects affecting the chassis and drivetrain. But if your RV has a leaky shower, that typically won’t be covered by your state’s Lemon Law. However, the Lemon Law in some states applies to the full RV and will cover issues like a leaky shower.
Regardless of where you live or where you purchased your RV, the Magnuson-Moss Warranty Act applies to every component of a recreational vehicle. So, if your RV has any warrantied defect that the manufacturer fails to repair after a reasonable number of attempts, you deserve to be compensated according to the federal Lemon Law.
Yes, private party sales are covered under the federal Lemon Law as well as most states’ lemon laws so long as the vehicle was sold with some type of warranty, which may simply be the duration of the original manufacturer’s warranty.
State Lemon Laws generally only apply to consumer vehicles. But the Magnuson-Moss Warranty Act, which is often referred to as the federal Lemon Law, covers all consumer products that cost more than $10. So, if you purchase a defective product that the manufacturer fails to repair, you should be eligible for compensation.
Generally, the term “as-is” refers to vehicles sold with no warranty protections. And since Lemon Laws are meant to hold manufacturers accountable for their warranties, any vehicle that is sold with some type of warranty cannot lawfully be labeled “as-is.” Moreover, the Magnuson-Moss Warranty Act prevents sellers from disclaiming implied warranties if a written warranty or service contract is provided by the seller within 90 days of the sale of the vehicle.
Implied warranties are different than the express written warranties provided by the seller or manufacturer, which limit protections to specific services, like repairs. Implied warranties arise as a matter of law with the sale of any consumer product and guarantee that the product will perform at a level of quality that you would expect from another similar product.
Per the plain language of the law, all vehicles must be “merchantable” or fit for their ordinary and intended purpose. In the context of automobiles, that means the vehicle must be reliable and provide trouble-free transportation.
Even if your car didn’t come with any warranty or service contract at the time of sale, federal law still requires that the selling dealer plainly disclose that the vehicle is being sold “as-is.” The dealer must affix a “Buyers Guide” or window sticker to the vehicle, making clear that the vehicle is sold “as-is.”
Thus, simply because a car dealer slaps the label “as-is” on your purchase contract, that doesn’t mean that you don’t have any rights. An experienced Lemon Law attorney can help you determine if your vehicle qualifies for relief under state or federal Lemon Laws, even if the selling dealer attempted to label the vehicle “as-is.” So if you feel that you’ve purchased such a lemon, we’re happy to review your case for free and counsel you on the best course of action.
No, Lemon Law does not typically apply to semi-trucks. Lemon laws are primarily designed to protect consumers, and since semi-trucks are not consumer vehicles, the laws don’t apply.
Still, if you purchased or leased a lemon of a semi, you should speak to an attorney. Even if you don’t qualify for compensation under state or federal Lemon Laws, an experienced attorney should be able to help you hold the manufacturer accountable for the defective vehicle under state commercial warranty laws.
Yes, in some cases, commercial vehicles are protected under Lemon Law. For example, the California Lemon Law applies to vehicles owned by a business as long as the business has fewer than 6 vehicles registered in CA. If your business purchases a lemon, touch base with us so we can review your case and help you pursue the compensation you might be owed.
Yes, the federal Lemon Law and most State lemon laws apply to motorcycles. That said, the Lemon Law in each of the following states explicitly excludes coverage for motorcycles:
If you purchase a lemon of a motorcycle in one of these states, you can still pursue compensation under the Magnuson-Moss Warranty Act. Contact us for a free case review so that we can provide you with more guidance for your specific claim.
What Is a Lemon Law Buyback?
Does a Lemon Law Buyback Void the Vehicle’s Warranty?
Can Lemon Law Cars Be Resold?
Are Car Rental Costs a Recoverable Damage for the Time a Lemon Vehicle Is Out of Service?
Can I Trade-In or Sell My Lemon Vehicle and Still Pursue a Lemon Law Claim for Money Damages?
A Lemon Law buyback is a vehicle that was returned to the manufacturer for a refund after it was declared a lemon. The term can also be used to describe the process of a dealer accepting the return and refunding the consumer.
Such refunds typically include the total you paid for the car, including taxes, fees, and financing charges. However, the manufacturer may withhold a reasonable usage fee to account for the time you were able to use the vehicle without issue. The amount of this usage fee varies from state to state. Consult an experienced Lemon Law attorney who can tell you exactly how much you would be entitled to recover for the repurchase of your lemon vehicle.
Generally speaking no. When a vehicle is bought back by the manufacturer, most states require the manufacturer to note that the vehicle was returned as a lemon on the title, i.e., “brand” the title. Doing so ensures that if the vehicle is re-sold, the new owner will be aware of its defects and can agree to a reasonable purchase price, all things considered. But, the balance of the manufacturer’s warranty in most cases is still in effect for the subsequent purchaser of the vehicle.
Yes, Lemon Law cars will almost always be resold to consumers. The title of the vehicle may note that it was returned as a lemon, but not all states force manufacturers to do so. As a result, consumers regularly purchase used lemons with no knowledge of their history. Thus, you should always pay close attention to the repair history whenever purchasing a used vehicle.
YES. Federal and/or state Lemon Laws typically provide for the recovery of car rental expenses when a vehicle is out of service. These expenses are known as consequential or collateral damages and are recoverable when your lemon vehicle is out of service while subject to repairs, including the time the dealer may just be waiting on parts.
Since 1995, we have never seen so many consumers being forced to incur this expense due to the shortage of available loaner vehicles that dealers traditionally would provide from their own lots. Due to the worldwide chip shortage, new car dealers simply don’t have available cars to give out as loaner vehicles like they used to do so during the repair process. Therefore, if you have a lemon don’t throw your money down the drain paying for a car rental while your lemon vehicle sits unrepaired at the dealer. Contact our firm for a Free Case Review and we will advise you of all of the damages you may recover for your lemon vehicle, including your car rental expenses.
YES. The ordinary measure of damages for a claim brought under the Magnuson-Moss Warranty Act, also known as the federal Lemon Law, is based upon how much you overpaid for your vehicle at the time you originally purchased it plus payment of your attorneys’ fees. Therefore, you can still pursue a claim for substantial money damages even if you already traded in your vehicle or plan on doing so.
The bottom line is that when you purchased your lemon vehicle you paid more than it was worth considering the problems you later experienced with it. Federal law makes clear that you should be made whole for any amount over the cost you would have reasonably paid if you were aware of the vehicle’s true condition. Even if you got a good deal on trade, you still overpaid upfront and deserve to be compensated.
What Happens After I Contact the Attorneys at Krohn & Moss, Ltd. Consumer Law Center®?
Will I Need to Pay a Legal Retainer for My Lemon Law Case?
How Can We Help Your Lemon Law Situation?
What Will My Responsibilities Be During the Investigation and Legal Process?
First, we will provide you with a free case review. This involves reviewing your vehicle’s repair history and explaining the relief we expect to win for you. We’ll also explain in detail how the manufacturer or dealer will be obligated to pay our attorney fees and the federal/state laws that require them to do so.
From there, the pace of your case will depend on a number of variables. We will begin the process of investigating and contacting the appropriate parties while filing any necessary paperwork or court documentation. In most cases, we secure settlements for our clients quickly, allowing you to focus on more important matters.
No. At Krohn & Moss, Ltd. Consumer Law Center®, we’re adamant that no consumer should ever be expected to pay a retainer fee when attempting to resolve a Lemon Law dispute. In fact, fee-shifting provisions in both state and federal laws allow us to represent most clients without ever charging them for our services. Instead, we bill the manufacturer for our fees and expenses, which state and federal laws say are recoverable if you prevail in a court of law.
Other firms may charge retainer fees because they lack confidence in your case or their own abilities. But with more than 25 years of experience and over 50,000 cases under our belt, we’re confident enough in our abilities to forgo retainers entirely. As a result, we only get paid when our clients do.
Filing a Lemon Law claim can be confusing if you’ve never done so. The attorneys at Krohn & Moss, Ltd. Consumer Law Center® have worked in this area of law since 1995 and have handled more than 50,000 cases. This experience allows us to quickly assess your case and counsel you on the best course of action for moving forward.
If you qualify for relief, we will do our best to ensure that you settle your claims for what the law entitles you, namely a refund, a replacement vehicle, or monetary compensation. Our goal is to hold manufacturers responsible for every single lemon they sell.
But all too often consumers simply accept their lemon, often because they aren’t aware of their rights or fear that defending them would cost too much. That’s why we never charge you a fee unless we win your case or secure a settlement. And when we do succeed, most lemon laws require the manufacturer to pay our fees rather than you.
Before a vehicle can be deemed a lemon, you must give the manufacturer a reasonable number of attempts to resolve the issue. Although every state’s laws vary, most provide manufacturers with at least 3 chances to do so. In some states, a single repair attempt may be sufficient to deem a car a lemon if the defect affects the safety of the vehicle.
Most states also qualify vehicles as lemons if any number of repair attempts keep the vehicle out of service for a total of 30 days. However, those 30 days out of service must take place within a set time period, often the first 12, 18, or 24 months after the original purchase date.
To find out how your state defines a “reasonable number of repair attempts,” click on your state’s name under the Select Your State drop-down menu at the top of this page.
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