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Lemon Law

The following is provided as a guide to Lemon Law. Please consult your attorney for the lemon laws specific to your state. Our VIN site has included a Lemon Law summary.

You can try our lemon law check for your vehicle to determine if your car is a lemon.

Thanks to the efforts of the Center for Auto Safety, we are able to provide you with the vehicle complaints on file with the National Highway for Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA). Each year, thousands of Americans call their government to register complaints about their vehicles. The federal government collects this information but has never released it to the general public. The complaint index is based on a ratio of the number of complaints for each vehicle to the sales of that vehicle.

Model Complaint Index Ratio
Mazda MPV 11,090
Kia Sportage 7,204
Ford Excursion 6,682
Ford Windstar 4,550
Mercury Cougar 4,342
Honda Passport 3,691
Honda S2000 3,510
Mitsubishi Eclipse 3,421
Isuzu Rodeo 3,393
Ford Explorer 3,039
Land Rover Range Rover 3,034
Audi A6 2,982
Hyundai Tiburon 2,954
Honda Odyssey 2,825
Lincoln LS 2,753
Jeep Grand Cherokee 2,744
Volkswagen Passat 2,676
Buick LeSabre 2,555
Suzuki Grand Vitara 2,552
Chevrolet Blazer 2,541
Chevrolet Impala 2,463
Jeep Wrangler 2,456
Toyota Tundra 2,454
Dodge Dakota 2,380

State Lemon Laws vary somewhat in coverage. Some states offer motorcycles lemon laws in addition to car lemon laws.

Each state defines 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”.

Most statutes set up a warranty rights period for a defined period, typically 12 to 24 months or 12,000 to 24,000 miles. Please note that your defect(s) must occur sometime during this period.

Most state laws provide 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:

  1. 1. If the defect is a serious safety defect involving brakes and or steering, the manufacturer is granted one attempt to repair.
  2. 2. If there is a safety defect that is not considered a serious safety defect, the manufacturer has two attempts to repair.
  3. 3. For any other defect, the manufacturer is usually given three or four chances to repair the same defect.
  4. 4. 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 occurs, the consumer is usually given the right to require repurchase or replacement of his/her vehicle.

Most lemon laws do allow an offset for use of the vehicle by the consumer, in that a reduction occurs for the usage the consumer has received. 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.

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.