Lemon Laws

What are lemon laws?

Lemon laws are state laws that protect consumers who buy defective cars. A consumer must have bought the vehicle while it was under the manufacturer's warranty or extended warranty in order for the lemon law to apply. A warranty is a promise made by the manufacturer or seller to the consumer. The law recognizes implied warranties and express warranties. Implied warranties are unwritten or unspoken promises. Consumer product transactions include an implied warranty of merchantability (the product will work) and an implied warranty of fitness for a particular purpose (the product can be used for some specific purpose). An express warranty is a written promise made to the consumer about the product or about the commitment on the part of the manufacturer or seller to repair the product if it is defective.

What is a lemon vehicle?

A lemon vehicle is a motor vehicle that has been repaired a specified number of times within a certain time period or that has been in the repair shop for a certain numbers of days within a set time period. For example, the Ohio Lemon Law applies if any of the following is true: (1) the vehicle has been in the repair shop three or more times for the same problem; (2) the vehicle has been in the repair shop for 30 calendar days or longer during its first year or 18,000 miles; (3) eight or more attempted repairs have been made to the vehicle for various problems; or (4) an unsuccessful attempt has been made to repair a problem that could cause death or serious injury.

What vehicles are covered by state lemon laws?

Some state lemon laws cover both new and used vehicles. Some states also cover leased vehicles under their lemon laws.

What remedies do state lemon laws provide?

Under the lemon laws, the consumer may get money back, may get a replacement vehicle, or may be entitled to a cash settlement. For example, the Ohio Lemon Law gives the consumer the right to get rid of a vehicle that is considered to be a lemon even if the dealer or manufacturer has fixed the vehicle. Ohio law also allows the consumer to recover money even after he or she has traded in the vehicle. The Ohio Lemon Law gives the consumer five years from the date he or she bought the lemon vehicle to file a legal claim. Under the Ohio Lemon Law, the manufacturer is required to refund the full purchase price of the vehicle.

Is there a federal lemon law?

The Magnuson-Moss Warranty Act, which is a federal law, governs consumer product warranties. However, the Act only covers written warranties on consumer products. The Act makes a breach of warranty a violation of federal law and allows consumers who sue under the Act to recover court costs and reasonable attorneys' fees.

Copyright 2012 LexisNexis, a division of Reed Elsevier Inc.