Lemon Laws: A Beginner’s Guide on Key Things to Know

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Filed under Automotive, Editorial

If you have just bought a new car, the last thing you want is for the vehicle to have a recurring problem that won’t get fixed. These defective cars are called lemon cars, and many states in America have lemon laws that protect buyers against them. If you’re planning to buy a car, especially a pre-owned one, it’s essential to know what lemon laws are, how they work, and what they cover.

What Are Lemon Laws?

Lemon laws are a set of laws that protect consumers who purchase vehicles that do not meet the required standard of quality or usefulness. This may be due to vehicle defects or issues affecting their safety, value, or use. These vehicles are called lemons; if they cannot be repaired successfully after several tries, the manufacturer must replace them or refund the buyer.

For example, if you own a Ford vehicle that exhibits persistent issues, a Ford lemon law buyback process will allow you to pursue a potential buyback of the defective vehicle. This means you will either be financially compensated or provided with a replacement.

By enforcing these laws, the government ensures that you have adequate protection against faulty vehicles and holds manufacturers accountable for producing such vehicles. Since each jurisdiction has its own laws and regulations, lemon laws also naturally vary by state.

For instance, California has one of the most comprehensive lemon laws in the United States, covering new and used vehicles if the defect is reported within 18 months or 18,000 miles after purchasing the car. On the other hand, Florida’s lemon law covers vehicles for the first 24 months or 24,000 miles. You should always seek legal advice and consult the specific lemon law in your state to better understand your situation’s specifics and requirements.

How Does Your Car Qualify for a Lemon Law?

If your purchased car is defective, it is not necessarily a lemon: the factors that qualify it vary from state to state. Generally, the defects should persist after a reasonable number of repair attempts, and a lawyer can help you determine this number.

Usually, there have to be three to four attempts to fix the defect, or the car has to have been in the repair shop for more than 30 days since buying it. The fault also has to be substantial, affecting the vehicle’s utility, safety, and value. This includes brakes, suspension, ignition, and fuel system defects. Additionally, the defects must be covered by a warranty and occur within the specific time or mileage limit according to each state’s laws.

What Does a Lemon Law Cover?

Lemon laws require the manufacturer to provide the consumer with a reasonable number of repair attempts, a refund or replacement, compensation for incidental costs, attorney fees, and court costs.

What Is the Lemon Law Process?

Once you’ve identified that your car meets the eligibility requirement for a lemon car, you contact the manufacturer and provide them with enough time to attempt to repair the vehicle. The process typically involves arbitration or mediation to resolve the dispute. However, you can file a lemon law claim if the issue cannot be resolved. This entails gathering documentation, such as repair records, and attending the hearing and trial to support the claim. If the claim is successful, you’ll receive compensation through a refund or replacement.


You should have a general overview of lemon laws, how they work, and what they cover so that you know your rights as a consumer. If you think your car qualifies for a lemon law, remember to research the specific lemon laws in your state, as they may vary, and seek legal advice to compensate for the faulty vehicle fairly.


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