What are “lemon laws” and how are they useful?

What are “lemon laws” and how are they useful?

Picture this: You buy your fancy new car. You’re excited – you’re thrilled – you’ve been saving up for so long! You are on your way over to show it to your parents and…bam. Black smoke from the engine, and a large expense from your new car coming.  Fortunately for you, there are lemon laws.

Picture this: You buy your fancy new car. You’re excited – you’re thrilled – you’ve been saving up for so long! You are on your way over to show it to your parents and…bam. Black smoke from the engine, and a large expense from your new car coming. 

Fortunately for you, there are lemon laws.

What are lemon laws?

Lemon laws are laws that will protect you while a car is still under warranty. Under a federal lemon law, a car dealership may be required to refund you the entire balance of a purchase if a car cannot be repaired.

It is important to note that there are federal lemon laws and state lemon laws. The requirements for state lemon laws will change based on the state that you live in, with some states providing more protection than others. 

Keep in mind that certain requirements have to be met before a lemon law takes effect. This includes:

  • A car dealership trying – and failing – to repair a car after multiple attempts.
  • The issues with the car are the responsibility of the manufacturer.
  • The problems have prohibited you from using the car for 30 days in a set period of time, usually a year or two. This time period does not have to be consecutive. 

How are lemon laws useful?

Lemon laws are designed to protect you from spending huge amounts of money on a major purchase – like a new car – and then not being able to enjoy that purchase because of a manufacturer defect. In the situation laid out at the start of this article, you could, potentially, be stuck with a car that doesn’t work, despite multiple attempts to fix it and a large amount of inconvenience for you. However, thanks to the lemon law, a car dealership may be required to refund you the entire balance of what you paid for the car.

The most common use of lemon laws are for cars, but it is worth noting that they may apply for other major purchases. This includes things like computers or other major home appliances. Again, this is due to the federal lemon law, which means that it applies to major products purchased anywhere in the country. States are free to enact more expansive lemon laws, and many have, but they cannot restrict coverage more than what the federal government establishes. This means that the federal lemon law sets the minimum coverage, not the maximum. 

Generally speaking, you will need an attorney to file a suit against a dealership in order to get your money back.

Daniel Hughes
Daniel Hughes
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