State Lemon Law Summary

State Lemon Laws have some differences like coverage of motorcycles and used vehicles, but there are some basic guidelines that they do share. You will find individual state summaries HERE.
1) The laws define what a lemon car is and require that the manufacturer, not the dealer, takes care of the defects. If a number of attempts have been made to repair a defect that significantly impairs the use, value or safety of a car and the car continues to have this defect, the car is than considered to be a "lemon".

2) Most statutes set up a warranty rights period of either 12 to 24 months or 12,000 to 24,000 miles. The defect(s) must occur sometime during this period.

3) Many of the state laws contain specific guidelines as to what constitutes a sufficient number of attempts to repair, and whether these attempts entitle the consumer to a refund or replacement. These are:

a. If the defect is a serious safety defect involving brakes and or steering, the manufacturer is granted one attempt to repair.

b. If there is a safety defect that is not considered a serious safety defect,the manufacturer has two attempts to repair.

c. For any other defect, the manufacturer is usually given three or four chances to repair the same defect.

d. If at any time the vehicle is in the shop for a cumulative total of 30 days in a one year period, with at least one of those days occurring the first 12,000 miles.

If any one of these of these guidelines can be satisfied, the consumer is usually given the right to require repurchase or replacement of his/her vehicle.

4) Most lemon laws do allow an offset for use of the vehicle by the consumer. Oftentimes, a reduction in the consumer's purchase price return is used in relation to the number of miles he/she had put on the car. One law spells out the reduction in refund for use as follows:

(miles at time of refund X purchase price)/100,000

The consumer can often argue that he/she should not be charged for miles that were put on the vehicle after the first try to fix the defect. For example, what if the consumer allows a dealer many attempts to repair a defect over a period of several thousand miles? Should the manufacturer be allowed to reduce his refund for the period of time he was not unsuccessful in fixing the defect? Our answer is no. The above formula should be used to compute the mileage at the time of the repair attempt. This can often make a difference of several hundred dollars to the consumer.

5) Only about one half of the lemon laws allow the consumer to recover attorney's fees in his/her action. Those states that do allow attorney's fees provide for a greater likelihood of success and representation in warranty disputes.

Editorial provided by: The Consumer Law Center, Lemon Law Attorneys