View Full Version : What are Lemon Laws?

07 Mar 2011, 04:38 AM
I was mostly curious as to what “lemon laws” were. I know it has something to do with buying Junker cars, ergo “lemon”. What are the specifics these laws cover? Pre-thanks!

07 Mar 2011, 06:12 AM
Lemon laws are, at heart, a listing of remedies for the manufacturer’s breach of warranty. The points of concern are, mostly in order, the safety, drivability, and resale value of the purchased car. That is, if you buy a (typically new) car, and it backfires, sprouts rust, or breaks down soon after purchase, then the manufacturer must either -

● Buyback the car
● Replace the car
● Pay for all necessary repairs to the car

In general, lemon laws apply to new vehicles with a declared gross weight under 10k lbs intended for personal use. Commercial vehicles tend to fall under a whole other set of laws, and actually excessive use and mileage on a vehicle can disqualify it for remedy under most state lemon laws. Motor homes are a common exception to the 10k lbs rule, but only the actual vehicle parts of the RV. Basically, the laws cover the “motor”, but not the “home”. Motorcycles and mopeds aren’t covered by (I think) a majority of state laws.

As far as taking action under lemon laws are concerned, the Better Business Bureau has the BBB Auto Line (http://www.bbb.org/us/auto-line/state-lemon-laws/) set up specifically to help the consumer deal with lemon laws complaints. They list the various state lemon laws and help the aggrieved consumer contact the relevant parties and process paper work.

07 Mar 2011, 07:06 AM
On the used cars issue, lemon laws don’t cover cars purchased under “as-is” basis. There usually has to be a warranty involved. Also, some car manufacturers don’t participate in the BBB program, and so the consumer would need to sue either the dealer (probably you) or the manufacturer directly. Attorneys are recommended, as this process can be a royal pain. If the case is found for the consumer, then the at-fault party (dealer or manufacturer) must replace/repair/buyback the car and cover attorney’s costs.

07 Mar 2011, 08:53 AM
State lemon laws typically don’t cover used vehicles (though there are exceptions, Alabama is a good example), but “federal lemon laws”, outlined by the 1975 Magnuson-Moss Warranty Act, covers the consumer even if the vehicle is purchased “as-is”, especially if the dealer fails to disclose preexisting issues with the car, like previous damage.

From a dealer perspective, just remember that slapping an “as-is” sticker on a beater won’t save you from potential legal troubles. A car sold as a usable vehicle and not a parts source must, after all, be drivable and safe, and it’s your responsibility to ensure that the vehicle in question was in good enough condition to sell as a drivable vehicle.