What is a lemon? A lemon is an (often new) vehicle that has manufacturing or design defects that may impact its safety or value and cannot reasonably be repaired by the manufacturer. The defect may be so great that the vehicle is unable to serve its intended purpose.
What is a Lemon Law? A variety of state and federal laws protect owners and lessees when their cars experience safety or quality issues that cannot be fixed by the dealer or manufacturer. As seen in our state-by-state rankings, states vary greatly in the protections offered, making it important to understand both state and federal protections if something goes wrong with your car. If you believe that you’ve been saddled with a lemon, the Center for Auto Safety’s Lemon Law Library is here to help!
To get started, choose your state from the menu below to see your state’s Lemon Law, summaries, and helpful state information:
Next, take a detailed look at your state’s score in the Center for Auto Safety’s Lemon Law Rankings, an evaluation of every state’s lemon law provisions and their effectiveness in consumer protection.
In certain circumstances, federal laws may be helpful to lemon owners:
- The Magnuson-Moss Warranty Act protects consumers by preventing manufacturers from drafting unfair warranties and making it easier for consumers to file warranty suits.
- Thanks to Federal Emissions Warranties, vehicle owners are protected from the cost of repairs associated with some emissions-related failures that result from manufacturing defects or cause the vehicle to exceed federal emissions standards. Manufacturers are required to provide this warranty on vehicles that are less than five years old and have been driven fewer than 50,000 miles. For more information, consult this EPA Emissions Pamphlet.
Some states have Secret Warranty Laws that offer protections to ensure fairness in repairs.
When vehicles with expired written warranties are found to have a major defect, the manufacturer may establish a Secret Warranty (sometimes called a policy adjustment or service campaign). The manufacturer alerts their regional offices of the new policy, but may not ever notify dealers and do not notify the consumer. This means that only consumers who complain loudly enough about the defect get covered by the secret warranty—and the manufacturer will save a large sum of money on all of the vehicle owners who don’t get their vehicles repaired. The Center for Auto Safety continues to fight against this consumer abuse.
Small Claims Courts are designed to provide a fast, efficient and inexpensive way to resolve claims of individuals against merchants or large corporations, are potentially a great resource to consumers. They are one of the best ways for consumers to settle disputes with a dealer, service station, repair shop, garage, or auto manufacturer. Learn more.
Qualifications for Lemon Law protections may differ state-by-state. Learn more about how your state defines a Lemon.
In Canada? Under the Canadian Motor Vehicle Arbitration Plan (CAMVAP), you may also be protected.
National Motor Vehicle Title Information System (NMVTIS) NMVTIS is designed to protect consumers from fraud and unsafe vehicles and to keep stolen vehicles from being resold. NMVTIS is also a tool that assists states and law enforcement in deterring and preventing title fraud and other crimes. Consumers can use NMVTIS to access important vehicle history information.
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