The Origin of Lemon Laws

When Did Lemon Law Start?

The first Lemon Law was a direct result of an accumulation of consumer complaints from folks who’d purchased defective motor vehicles. In 1975, these complaints culminated in the creation of the Magnuson-Moss Warranty Act, commonly known as the Federal Lemon Law.

However, the Uniform Commercial Code, predates this first Lemon Law and provides similar protections. Originally published in 1952, the UCC was designed to protect consumers and sellers of all kinds of products. The code even included provisions that required sellers to refund consumers for “non-conforming” (defective) products.

Despite the creation of the UCC, consumers continued to endure faulty vehicles and frustrating, failed repair attempts for decades. Eventually, the public had had enough and persuaded our representatives to act.

The first state Lemon Law was passed in 1982 after representative John J. Woodcock III introduced it to the Connecticut legislature. Once Connecticut passed its Lemon Law, other states took notice. Eventually, every state in the nation had its own Lemon Law.

Before long, other countries saw the value in Lemon Laws and began to pass their own versions. Canada, Australia, the European Union, and countless other countries followed suit to create Lemon Laws of their own.

These laws effectively prevent consumers from being taken advantage of by manufacturers. In general, they do so by giving consumers legal recourse when manufacturers fail to honor the terms of their warranties. The laws also provide time limits within which manufacturers must address issues covered by those warranties.

These laws have proven to be successful largely because of the penalties they impose on manufacturers who fail to abide by them. In some cases, manufacturers are required to refund consumers or replace their faulty vehicles after as few as one failed repair attempt.

Lemon Laws haven’t entirely prevented car companies from producing defective vehicles. But they’re a step in the right direction, because if there’s one thing that can make a huge corporation “pucker its lips,” it’s the sour taste of losing money.

Why are Old Cars Called Lemons?

The term “Lemon” has been used to refer to something that is useless or of substandard quality in American slang since at least 1909. It’s nearly impossible to find the first use of any word or phrase outside of print. However, the sour taste of the actual fruit must be linked to the use of the term for intolerable products and cars.

In the early 1900s, criminals also used the term to refer to a good “mark,” individuals who the criminals could “suck the juice out of.” Used in this way, the “lemon” is both substandard (more gullible than most) and is viewed as an opportunity.

By the 1960s, new cars that proved to be defective or non-functioning began to be referred to as “Lemons.” And the term as we know it today was eternalized with the 1975 Magnuson-Moss Warranty Act, commonly known as the Lemon Law.

If You Have a Lemon…

Try to view it as the opportunity it could provide rather than the sour taste it leaves in your mouth. The attorneys here at Krohn & Moss, Ltd. can help you turn your Lemon into Lemonade, by holding the car company responsible. If your car meets the definition of a Lemon, we can help you exchange it for a refund or a replacement vehicle.

Contact us today to schedule a FREE case review.

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