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What Is a Lemon Law and Does It Apply to My Car?

By: StaffPublished September 24, 2021

It's every car buyer's nightmare: the lemon. Whether it's a fluke or a scam, getting stuck with a useless heap of scrap metal or a money pit of repairs doesn't have to be your fate. Federal and state

The definition of a lemon is consistent across most states. If you can answer yes to any of these questions, you could have a lemon on your hands.

Typically, state lemon laws only cover new vehicles for the first few years after purchase. Used cars are covered in some states, like Maine and Louisiana, and under the national Magnuson-Moss Warranty Act. Most of these laws include a specific time frame, usually the warranty period and a year or two beyond. If you believe that your car could be considered a lemon, you should check your local lemon laws to determine your specific consumer rights.

In most situations, you will need to hire a lawyer and file a claim against the manufacturer of your vehicle, rather than the dealer. Some states use an arbitration board to resolve these kinds of disputes, in which case a lawyer will not be necessary unless you're unsatisfied with the board's decision. You can always challenge the findings of an arbitration board in a court of law.

The best way to ensure that your consumer rights are respected is to approach the sale cautiously from the beginning. Check the vehicle's history to see if it has been repurchased by the manufacturer (often called a lemon buyback) and be certain to get all promises in writing.

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