The US car lemon laws were enacted to protect consumers from buying defective, irreparable vehicles. Automobile manufacturers mass-produce their vehicles and quality control is generally very good but that doesn’t mean problems can’t arise with a brand new vehicle and they do – often.
So what is a lemon car? A lemon or lemon car is a vehicle that has a defect that cannot be repaired after a reasonable number of attempts. Also, if the car has been in a repair garage for 30 calendar days or more for repairs on the same defect, it can also be classified as a lemon. The term can also apply to a vehicle in which the defect negatively affects the value and safety of the vehicle. Car lemon laws vary by state, so you should consult your own state laws to determine the exact definition that applies to you.
Lemon laws were needed to protect consumers because the bill for a car with four to six (or more) attempted repairs, with all the parts and labor charges, can easily add up to thousands of dollars. If your car is stuck in a repair garage for 30 days or more, with the mechanics billing hour after hour of labor, the bill might approach the price of the car itself!
If your car meets your state’s lemon car criteria, you have the right to seek a refund or replacement from the car manufacturer (not the dealer from which you bought it). You are probably entitled to be reimbursed for related costs such as towing, rental cars, and maybe even long distance calls to the manufacturer. Be absolutely sure to keep all bills and invoices related to your attempts to get your car repaired.
If you decide to proceed with a lemon law claim against the manufacturer, it is beneficial to consult with a lawyer that specializes in lemon law cases. A lawyer can help make an already stressful process go much more smoothly.
Some states have passed lemon laws to protect consumers against defective purchases of boats and even pets. Regardless of the origin of the term, lemon laws are there to protect you. The car manufacturers can hire teams of expensive lawyers, and they know you can’t. Car lemon laws help to level the playing field in your favor.