The Lemon Law by State – The Most Common Differences

‘Can I get my money back if my newly purchased car turns out to be lemon?’ Quite honestly, the answer to one of the most frequently asked questions by consumers is ‘maybe!’ This is because lemon laws vary from state to state and much depends on the laws of the particular state where you live or where you bought the car. Yep, the laws can be rather confusing and manufacturers will definitely try to convince you that you don’t have any rights when in fact you do. So, make sure you are familiar with your state’s lemon law and take a look at the main differences between several state lemon laws below. Ready?


Different States – Different Lemon Laws

As already mentioned, every state in the United States has different lemon laws and a set of standards and procedures consumers should know about. The questions and answers below will help you better understand in what key areas state lemon laws vary.

  •         How long after delivery of the vehicle a consumer has lemon law rights?

Yeah, state lemon laws only protect vehicles for a limited period. This is usually measured in time or miles, such as 12 months or 12,000 miles. For example, California Lemon Law allows a time period of 18 months or 18,000 miles, whereas Georgia allows for 12 months or 12,000 miles, and New York calls for a period of 24 months or 18,000 miles.

  •         How many repair attempts are required?

The so-called reasonable number of attempts also varies from state to state. For example, according to California Lemon Law, your vehicle qualifies as a lemon if there were 4 or more repair attempts for the same issue or there were 2 or more repair attempts to fix an issue that can cause injury or death. On the other hand, New Jersey requires 3 unsuccessful repair attempts of the defect and 1 unsuccessful repair attempt of a serious safety defect likely to cause death or serious bodily injury before the vehicle qualifies as a lemon.

  •         Do lemon laws cover used vehicles?

Many state lemon laws only apply to new cars, while others also extend to used and leased cars. For example, there is a new car lemon law, and there is a used car lemon law in New Jersey, California. Colorado and Illinois on the other hand, don’t cover used vehicles. By the way, Illinois and Colorado have the nation’s worst consumer protections for auto buyers according to the Center for Auto Safety.

  •         Are motorcycles, motorhomes (RVs), and commercial trucks covered?

Illinois Lemon Law covers new cars, light trucks and vans under 8,000 lbs and RVs, while there are states that cover motorcycles, boats, recreational vehicles (RVs), and all-terrain vehicles (ATVs) as well. For example, California Lemon Law covers any product that is purchased or used primarily for personal, family, or household purposes, including cars, trucks, motor homes, and motorcycles. So, if you live in Illinois and have a motorcycle or a boat that is a lemon, your state’s lemon law won’t help you!

  •         Are attorney fees covered by the manufacturer if the vehicle is found to be a lemon?

If you live in California and believe you’re driving a lemon, don’t hesitate to contact a qualified lemon law attorney. If you file a lawsuit and win, the manufacturer has to pay the consumer’s attorney fees. On the other hand, in Colorado if a consumer brings a lawsuit and loses at trial, then the consumer must pay the manufacturer’s attorney fees, which can be tens of thousands of dollars.


Federal VS State Lemon Laws

In addition to state lemon laws, consumers are protected by the Federal Lemon Law (Magnuson-Moss Warranty Act) as well regardless of in which state the vehicle was purchased. The Federal Lemon Law applies to all consumer products, including automobile, trucks, motorcycles, RVs, boats, and all other ordinary consumer products. Though the Federal Lemon Law applies nationwide, it does not replace any rights a consumer may have under a particular state law. Moreover, some state laws may have a broader scope or may allow more remedies for consumers.


Wrapping Up…

There are definitely states that do the best job protecting consumers than others do. But one thing is for sure, both federal and state lemon laws are meant to protect consumers from buying a vehicle that turns out to be a giant piece of metal.

So, if you believe you have purchased a lemon and have questions about your state’s lemon law, dial (818) 553 -1000 right away for a free consultation to explore your legal options and get answers to your questions. Our lemon law attorneys at Margarian Law Firm have a thorough understanding of lemon laws and your rights as a consumer. Trust us, we’ll help you say goodbye to your lemon!