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What Is the Lemon Law?

Posted by Auto.com Staff | Jan 3, 2019

When a car spends more time at the mechanic’s shop than on the road, it is often referred to as being a lemon - and the laws surrounding these problematic cars are often referred to as lemon laws. They are designed to protect consumers from a defect in the products and centered around the idea of both implied and express warranty. While lemon laws exist for most motorized products, they are most commonly associated with vehicles.

Lemon laws were enacted in 1975, under the Magnuson-Moss Warranty Act. The Magnuson-Moss ruling effectively guarantees that a manufacturer must comply with federal law and cannot mislead consumers when it comes to express warranties. In order for a vehicle to meet the requirements of being labeled as a lemon, it must still be under warranty – express or implicit. It is important to remember that lemon laws deal with the manufacturer and not necessarily the dealer where the vehicle was sold. This means that the automaker may be responsible for issuing a refund or replacement, not the car dealer.

When you buy a car from a dealer, it often comes with a warranty. This is known as an express warranty and is very specific about just what kinds of repairs are covered and the costs associated with those repairs. An implied warranty, on the other hand, is the idea that when you purchase something you are doing it with the understanding that the product will work most of the time under normal conditions. The exception is a vehicle that is sold specifically “as-is,” in which case there is no implied warranty, and the consumer cannot pursue a refund or replacement due to defect.

The most important thing to know about lemon laws is that they vary by state. If you are concerned that you or someone you know has purchased a car that might be considered a lemon, you will need to look into what the laws are in your state. It is recommended that you keep detailed records of all the work completed and repair orders for the vehicle. This is because the amount of work and the time period for which the vehicle is out of commission often plays a factor in deciding if the vehicle qualifies as a lemon or not. Depending on the problems you are having, you may be able to pursue the issue under your state’s existing lemon laws, as well as under the federal Magnuson-Moss Warranty Act.