Lemon Law

Lemon laws, covered by both state and federal statutes, are laws designed to protect consumers when they purchase a vehicle that fails to meet certain quality and performance standards. 

This page will provide you with an overview of the state lemon laws for new and used vehicles. 

For official information or legal advice, please contact your attorney or your state’s consumer protection agency. 

What is the lemon law? 

A “lemon car” describes a vehicle that you purchased that has a manufacturing defect that cannot be repaired, and which has resulted in reducing the usability, safety, or value of the car. 

Each state has a slightly different lemon law, but each one has basically the same principles:

  • When a vehicle has significant defects that cannot be repaired in a reasonable amount of time, the manufacturer is required to either repurchase the car or replace it with a new one. 

Lemon laws are meant to exceed the coverage offered by new vehicle manufacturer warranties.

State lemon-buyback laws apply when you purchase vehicles from car dealerships that are under the manufacturer’s new vehicle warranty.

Under most lemon laws, it is the car manufacturer’s responsibility to make things right if your vehicle qualifies as a lemon. 

Federal lemon laws and protections include:

  • The Magnuson-Moss Warranty Act, which protects consumers from unfair warranty provisions and requirements. 
  • Federal Emissions Warranties, which protect consumers from the cost of repairs for certain problems related to the vehicle’s emissions control systems. 

For more information regarding your own vehicle, be sure to contact legal counsel or your state’s consumer’s affairs office. 

Key Aspects to Know About Lemon Laws in Each State

While each state has slightly different lemon laws, the same basic principles apply. Here are the key aspects to know about what qualifies as a lemon:

  • Defect: This can typically be any problem that affects the safety, quality, usability, or value of the vehicle.
  • Repair attempts: The dealer, manufacturer, or manufacturer’s agent will have a reasonable number of attempts to repair the issue. The maximum is generally 3-4 attempts. However, more serious defects may qualify after just 1 unsuccessful repair. Alternatively, vehicles may also qualify if they have been in the shop for a total number of days (generally 30 total days).
  • Timeframe: Lemon law qualification expires after a certain period of time. This is generally the shorter of 1 to 2 years, 12,000 to 24,000 miles from the purchase date, or the warranty period.

What types of problems are covered by the lemon law? 

While lemon laws vary by state, they tend to cover a wide range of problems you may be experiencing with your vehicle. 

Each state’s law has criteria that take into account the nature of the issue with the vehicle and the nature of the repairs or repair attempts. 

In general, the problem simply has to be a defect or malfunction that restricts the vehicle’s safety, use, or value. 

It is also something that is ongoing and cannot be remedied after a reasonable number of attempts over a reasonable period of time. 

This could include problems with:

  • The engine or transmission. 
  • Windows or air conditioning. 
  • Electrical problems. 
  • Doors, trunks, or hood. 
  • Seats. 

Lemon Laws for Used Cars

When you purchase a used vehicle, there is often a higher risk for problems with the car. That’s one of the reasons why it’s always smart to order a vehicle history report when shopping for used cars

While all 50 states and D.C. have lemon laws for new cars, not every state has protections for used vehicles. 

States that do have specific lemon laws for used cars include:

  • Connecticut. 
  • California. 
  • Massachusetts. 
  • Minnesota. 
  • New Jersey. 
  • New Mexico. 
  • New York. 

Used car lemon law coverage generally only applies in the following circumstances (which vary by state):

  • Very shortly after the sale takes place. 
  • If the used vehicle is still under manufacturer warranty. 
  • If the used vehicle is under a certain mileage or age. 
  • If the vehicle fails an inspection soon after the purchase. 
  • If it is still within 1 year of the original purchase. 

When buying a used car, always be sure to do some research to make sure you’re not getting stuck with something that’s going to give you issues. Don’t count on a state’s used car lemon law protections to totally cover you. 

How Does the Lemon Law Work

The specific criteria for lemon laws vary by state, but each one follows a similar process. 

If you believe you’ve purchased a lemon car, the process will go something like this:

  1. Make the necessary attempts to have the issue repaired under the manufacturer’s warranty. 
  2. Keep records and documentation of all service, communication, and estimates from the dealer, manufacturer, or other authorized agent. 
  3. If you believe the vehicle meets the criteria of a lemon, notify the manufacturer to begin the lemon-law remedy process. 

First, you’ll need to experience an issue with your car that impairs its use, safety, or value. This could be anything from engine problems to windows that won’t roll down. 

Next, you’ll need to take your car in to be repaired. 

If the dealer/manufacturer is unable to repair the problem after a certain number of attempts over a certain period of time, the lemon law may kick in assuming that the vehicle is still within the timeframe layed out in your state’s lemon law requirements.  

How to File a Claim

If your vehicle qualifies as a lemon under the state’s law, you’ll need to contact the manufacturer about the issue. 

Depending on the state, you’ll generally need to either:

  • Send notice to the vehicle manufacturer. 
  • Use a state-certified arbitration process. 
  • Use a manufacturer’s arbitration process. 

When you do file a claim, you should be prepared with documentation to support your car being a lemon. This may include:

  • Original purchase agreements. 
  • Marketing claims for the vehicle. 
  • Service records. 
  • Attempts at repair. 

If your vehicle meets the state’s lemon law requirements, you’ll be entitled to a full refund or a replacement car from the manufacturer. 

For specific details regarding your own situation, please contact your state’s consumer’s affairs office or legal counsel. 

Lemon Laws by State

Find your state below to see what vehicles qualify for refund or replacement under the lemon law.

Alabama

In order to qualify for Alabama’s lemon law, the vehicle must meet the following criteria:

  • 3 failed repairs or out-of-service for 30 days
  • Repair attempts must be made within 24 months or 24,000 miles from the purchase date. 
  • At least 1 repair attempt must be made within the first year or first 12,000 miles

Alabama’s lemon law applies to new vehicles only

The lemon law excludes motorhomes and vehicles weighing over 10,000 lbs. 

Alaska

In order to qualify for Alaska’s lemon law, the vehicle must meet the following criteria:

  • 3 failed attempts at repair or out-of-service for 30 business days. 
  • Issue occurs within 1 year or the warranty period, whichever is less. 

Arizona

In order to qualify for Arizona’s lemon law, the vehicle must meet the following criteria:

  • 4 failed repairs or out-of-service for 30 days
  • Issues occur within the lesser of the warranty period, 2 years from the purchase date, or 24,000 miles. 

This applies to new vehicles. 

There may be some stipulations for used cars in Arizona. 

Your used car may be covered if a major component breaks within 15 days or 500 miles of the purchase date, whichever comes first. 

You may be responsible for up to $25 for the first 2 attempts at repair. 

Arkansas

In order to qualify for Arkansas’s lemon law, the vehicle must meet the following criteria:

  • 3 failed repairs5 total repair attempts, or 1 failed repair for an issue likely to cause serious injury or death. 
  • Issue is within 24 months or 24,000 miles, whichever lasts longer. 

California

In order to qualify for California’s lemon law, the vehicle must meet the following criteria:

  • 4 failed repair attemptsout-of-service for 30 days, or 2 failed repairs for an issue likely to result in death or serious injury
  • Issues occur within 18 months or 18,000 miles of purchase or the issue persists for a reasonable number of repair attempts for the period of the warranty. 

Used vehicles are covered as long as they are still under the manufacturer’s original warranty. 

Colorado

In order to qualify for Colorado’s lemon law, the vehicle must meet the following criteria:

  • 4 failed attempts to repair the issue or the vehicle is out-of-service for 30 days
  • Issue occurs within 1 year from the purchase date or the warranty period

Connecticut

In order to qualify for Connecticut’s lemon law, the vehicle must meet the following criteria:

  • 4 failed repairs, 2 failed repairs for a defect likely to cause serious injury or death, or out-of-service for 30 days. 
  • Within 2 years or 24,000 miles. 

The CT lemon law does apply to used vehicles purchased from a dealer for $3,000 or more. 

The maximum coverage term is 60 days or 3,000 miles. 

Delaware

In order to qualify for Delaware’s lemon law, the vehicle must meet the following criteria:

  • 4 repair attempts or out-of-service for 30 days. 
  • Issues occur within 1 year or the purchase date or the warranty period.

Florida

In order to qualify for Florida’s lemon law, the vehicle must meet the following criteria:

  • 3 failed repairs or out-of-service for 15 days. 
  • Issue occurs within 24 months of purchase. 

Georgia

In order to qualify for Georgia’s lemon law, the vehicle must meet the following criteria:

  • 3 failed repairs, 1 failed repair of a serious issue, or out-of-service for 30 days. 
  • Issue occurs within 24 months or 24,000 miles from the purchase date. 

Hawaii

In order to qualify for Hawaii’s lemon law, the vehicle must meet the following criteria:

  • 3 failed repairs, 1 failed repair for a serious problem, or out-of-service for 30 days. 
  • Issue occurs with the shorter of 2 years or 24,000 miles from the date of purchase. 

Idaho

In order to qualify for Idaho’s lemon law, the vehicle must meet one of the following criteria:

  • 4 failed repair attempts. 
  • 1 unsuccessful repair of a braking or steering issue that is likely to result in serious injury or death. 
  • Vehicle is out-of-service for 30 business days.

The above issue must occur within 2 years or 24,000 miles. 

Illinois

In order to qualify for Illinois’s lemon law, the vehicle must meet the following criteria:

  • 4 failed repairs or out-of-service for 30 business days. 
  • Issues occur within 1 year or 12,000 miles, whichever comes first. 

Indiana

In order to qualify for Indiana’s lemon law, the vehicle must meet the following criteria:

  • 4 failed repairs or out-of-service for 30 business days. 
  • Issue is within 18 months or 18,000 miles of purchase, whichever is sooner. 

Iowa

In order to qualify for Iowa’s lemon law, the vehicle must meet the following criteria:

  • 3 failed repairs, 1 failed repair for an issue likely to cause injury or death, or out-of-service for 30 days. 
  • Issue happens within 2 years or 24,000 miles from the purchase date. 

Kansas

In order to qualify for Kansas’s lemon law, the vehicle must meet the following criteria:

  • 4 failed repair attempts, 10 total repairs, or 30 days out-of-service. 
  • Issue occurs within 1 year from the purchase date or the warrant period. 

Kentucky

In order to qualify for Kentucky’s lemon law, the vehicle must meet the following criteria:

  • 4 failed repairs or 30 days out-of-service. 
  • Issue occurs within 1 year or 12,000 miles from purchase, whichever occurs first. 

Louisiana

In order to qualify for Louisiana’s lemon law, the vehicle must meet the following criteria:

  • 4 failed repairs or out-of-service for 90 days. 
  • Issue happens within 1 year from the purchase date or the warrant period, whichever is shorter. 

Maine

In order to qualify for Maine’s lemon law, the vehicle must meet the following criteria:

  • 3 failed repairs, 1 failed repair for a serious issue (brakes or steering systems), or 15 business days out of service. 
  • Issue occurs within 3 years, 18,000 miles, or the warranty period, whichever comes first. 

As long as the vehicle is still within the timeframes outlined in the Maine lemon law, subsequent owners are still covered for used vehicles. 

Maryland

In order to qualify for Maryland’s lemon law, the vehicle must meet the following criteria:

  • 4 repair attempts, 1 failed repair for braking or steering systems, or 30 days out of service. 
  • Issue occurs within 15 months or 15,000 miles from the date of sale, whichever comes first. 

Massachusetts

In order to qualify for Massachusetts’s lemon law, the vehicle must meet the following criteria:

  • 3 failed repair attempts or 10 days out of service. 
  • Issue occurs within 1 year or 15,000 miles after the purchase, whichever occurs first. 
  • Issue occurs within 1 year or 15,000 miles after the purchase, whichever occurs first. 

The MA lemon law applies to used vehicles with less than 125,000 miles. 

Used cars with over 125,000 miles are also covered if they fail a Massachusetts vehicle inspection within 1 week from the purchase date. 

Michigan

In order to qualify for Michigan’s lemon law, the vehicle must meet the following criteria:

  • 4 failed repair attempts within 2 years of the 1st repair or 30 days out of service. 
  • Issue occurs within 1 year or the warranty period. 

Used cars may be covered if they are still under the original warranty and it is still 1 year since the original purchase. 

Minnesota

In order to qualify for Minnesota’s lemon law, the vehicle must meet the following criteria:

  • 4 failed repair attempts, 1 failed repair of a braking or steering issue likely to cause serious injury or death, or 30 business days out of service. 
  • Issues occur within 2 years from the sale date or the warranty period, whichever comes first. 

Minnesota lemon law does cover certain used vehicles. 

Mississippi

In order to qualify for Mississippi’s lemon law, the vehicle must meet the following criteria:

  • 3 failed repairs or 15 days out of service. 
  • Issue is within 1 year from the sale date or the warranty period, whichever is sooner. 

Missouri

In order to qualify for Missouri’s lemon law, the vehicle must meet the following criteria:

  • 30 days out of service or 4 failed repairs. 
  • Happens within 1 year from sale or the warranty period, whichever comes first. 

Montana

In order to qualify for Montana’s lemon law, the vehicle must meet the following criteria:

  • 4 failed repair attempts or out of service for 30 business days. 
  • Issue is within 2 years or 18,000 miles from the date of purchase, whichever comes first.

Nebraska

In order to qualify for Nebraska’s lemon law, the vehicle must meet the following criteria:

  • 4 failed repairs or the vehicle is out of service for 40 days. 
  • Within 1 year from the purchase date or the warranty period. 

Nevada

In order to qualify for Nevada’s lemon law, the vehicle must meet the following criteria:

  • 4 failed repair attempts or 30 days out of service. 
  • Within 1 year from the sale or the warranty period. 

Used cars that are still within 1 year from the original purchase or the warranty period may still be covered. 

New Hampshire

In order to qualify for New Hampshire’s lemon law, the vehicle must meet the following criteria:

  • 30 business days out of service or 3 failed repair attempts by the same dealership. 
  • Issue occurs within the warranty period. 

New Jersey

In order to qualify for New Jersey’s lemon law, the vehicle must meet the following criteria:

  • 3 failed repairs, 1 failed repair of a serious defect, or out-of-service for 20 days. 
  • Issue occurs within 2 years or 24,000 miles from the purchase date. 

Used cars in New Jersey may be protected under the lemon law if the meet the following criteria:

  • No more than 7 model years old. 
  • Less than 100,000 miles. 
  • Purchase price of at least $3,000. 

New Mexico

In order to qualify for New Mexico’s lemon law, the vehicle must meet the following criteria:

  • 30 business days out of service or 4 failed repair attempts of the same issue. 
  • Problem occurs within 1 year from sale or the warranty period, whichever is first.

New York

In order to qualify for New York’s lemon law, the vehicle must meet the following criteria:

  • 4 failed repairs or 30 days out of service. 
  • Issues occur within the earlier of 2 years or 18,000 miles. 

North Carolina

In order to qualify for North Carolina’s lemon law, the vehicle must meet the following criteria:

  • 4 failed repairs within 24 months or 24,000 miles or 20 business days out of service within 12-months during the warranty period. 

North Dakota

In order to qualify for North Dakota’s lemon law, the vehicle must meet the following criteria:

  • 30 business days out of service or 3 failed repair attempts of the same defect. 
  • Within 1 year of the purchase or the warranty period, whichever occurs first. 

Ohio

In order to qualify for Ohio’s lemon law, the vehicle must meet the following criteria:

  • 8 total repairs, 1 failed repair of a defect likely to result in serious injury or death, 3 failed repairs of the same issue, or 30 days out of service. 
  • Issues occur within 1 year or 18,000 miles from the date of purchase, whichever comes first. 

Oklahoma

In order to qualify for Oklahoma’s lemon law, the vehicle must meet the following criteria:

  • 4 failed repairs or out-of-service for 30 days. 
  • Within 1 year from purchase or warranty. 

Oregon

In order to qualify for Oregon’s lemon law, the vehicle must meet the following criteria:

  • 3 failed repair attempts, 1 failed repair of a defect likely to result in death or serious injury, or out-of-service of 30 business days. 
  • Occurs within 2 years of 24,000 miles from the purchase. 

Pennsylvania

In order to qualify for Pennsylvania’s lemon law, the vehicle must meet the following criteria:

  • 3 failed repairs or 30 days out of service. 
  • Issue is within 1 year, 12,000 miles, or the warranty period, whichever comes first. 

Rhode Island

In order to qualify for Rhode Island’s lemon law, the vehicle must meet the following criteria:

  • 4 failed repairs or out-of-service for 30 days. 
  • Within 1 year or 15,000 miles from purchase. 

South Carolina

In order to qualify for South Carolina’s lemon law, the vehicle must meet the following criteria:

  • 3 failed repairs or 30 days out of service. 
  • Within 1 year or 12,000 miles from the date of purchase, whichever occurs first. 

South Dakota

In order to qualify for South Dakota’s lemon law, the vehicle must meet the following criteria:

  • 4 failed repairs or 30 days out of service. 
  • The first repair attempt must have occurred within the first year or 12,000 miles. 
  • Issue is within 24 months or 24,000 miles from the date of sale. 

Tennessee

In order to qualify for Tennessee’s lemon law, the vehicle must meet the following criteria:

  • 4 failed repairs or out of service for 30 days. 
  • Within 1 year from the date of purchase or the warranty period, whichever comes first. 

Texas

In order to qualify for Texas’s lemon law, the vehicle must meet the following criteria:

  • 4 failed repair attempts, 2 failed repairs for a major safety defect, or out of service for 30 days. 
  • Occurs within 24 months, 24,000 miles, or the end of the warranty period, whichever comes first.

Utah

In order to qualify for Utah’s lemon law, the vehicle must meet the following criteria:

  • 4 failed repairs or 30 business days out of service. 
  • Within 1 year or the end of the warranty period.

Vermont

In order to qualify for Vermont’s lemon law, the vehicle must meet the following criteria:

  • 3 failed repairs or 30 days out of service. 
  • At least 1 repair must have been attempted during the warranty period. 
  • Issues occur with the warranty period. 

Used cars may qualify if the first repair for the same defect occurred within the original manufacturer warranty period. 

Virginia

In order to qualify for Virginia’s lemon law, the vehicle must meet the following criteria:

  • 3 failed repairs, 1 failed repair of a serious issue, or out of service for 30 days. 
  • Issues occur within 18 months from the date of purchase. 

Washington

In order to qualify for Washington’s lemon law, the vehicle must meet one of the following criteria:

  • 4 failed repairs with 1 of the repair attempts must have occurred within the manufacturer’s warranty, the first year, or the first 12,000 miles.  
  • 2 failed repairs of a serious safety hazard with 1 attempt reported during the warranty period, the first 24 months, or the first 24,000 miles. 
  • Out of service for 30 days with at least 15 days during the warranty period.  

West Virginia

In order to qualify for West Virginia’s lemon law, the vehicle must meet the following criteria:

  • 1 failed repair for an issue likely to result in serious injury or death, 3 failed repair attempts, or out of service for 30 days. 
  • Occurs within 1 year from the sale or the warranty period, whichever comes first. 

Wisconsin

In order to qualify for Wisconsin’s lemon law, the vehicle must meet the following criteria:

  • 4 failed repair attempts or 30 days out of service. 
  • Within the earlier of 1 year or the warranty period. 

Wyoming

In order to qualify for Wyoming’s lemon law, the vehicle must meet the following criteria:

  • 3 failed repair attempts or 30 business days out of service. 
  • Within 1 year from the purchase date. 

Washington DC

In order to qualify for Washington DC’s lemon law, the vehicle must meet the following criteria:

  • 4 failed repairs, 1 failed repair of a safety issue, or 30 days out of service. 
  • Occurs within 2 years or 18,000 miles from the date of purchase.