How The Car Lemon Law Works

Every state has its own version of a car lemon law; although they differ they do have some common threads that run through them all. In a nut shell, the buyer of a car that is determined to meet the state qualifications of a lemon is given the opportunity to either get a replacement car which is substantially the same as the lemon or a refund of the purchase price including fees and taxes paid at the time.

Although the time frame varies as does the number of repair attempts, in order for a car to meet the definition of lemon in most states there must be a “substantial” defect that is covered by the manufacturer’s warranty on the vehicle, the claim must be made in a certain period of time or in some cases, miles on the vehicle. Further to this, the car must have been presented for repair a number of times and in no case was the fault repaired. Although there are a few states that have a clause in their law that covers used cars, the greatest majority of lemon laws apply only to new cars which have been purchased or leased.

There are times when there is a dispute between the owner and the manufacturer or the manufacturer’s representative; this has to do with the use of the word “substantial.” The line between what one would see as a substantial problem and what another would see as a minor inconvenience is often not clear.
It stands to reason that a substantial defect is one that has a negative impact on the cars value and impairs the cars safety and use. Reasonable examples of a substantial fault are brake problems, problems with the engine or drive train or steering problems. The disputes often arise when the problem is something like an acrid odor in the car or a defective finish.

The lemon law in the majority of states say the defect must have occurred in a specific time period, this is normally one or two years. In cases where the odometer reading is used, the norm is 12 to 24,000 miles. In no case can the defect be caused by abuse or radical modifications to the car.

If the owner goes through the mandated process and it is found that the car meets the states definition of a lemon then the owner must notify the manufacturer and in most states go through a process of arbitration, some arbitration programs are state sponsored while others sponsored by the manufacturer.

As the car lemon law varies from one state to another you need to get accurate information on the law in your state. This information is available online, you are invited to visit Lemon Law America.

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