The Ins and Outs of Lemon Laws: What Categories a Car as a Lemon Under Law

January 28, 2023 - 5:23 am - 4 min read

Understanding Lemon Laws and Their Purpose

No one wants to bring home a brand new car only to have it break down a month later. Yet, it happens all too often. Fortunately, state and federal laws exist to protect consumers from such a scenario. Lemon laws provide a recourse for those who purchase a vehicle that has problems that cannot be fixed within a reasonable number of attempts. With that said, it can be difficult to know what categories a car falls under when it comes to a lemon law claim.

Lemon laws vary by state, but they generally apply to consumer goods that are defective. This includes automobiles. The laws typically cover any mechanical issues that “substantially impair the use, value, or safety” of the vehicle. In most cases, the law applies to defects that arise during a specific period of time or within a certain number of miles driven.

The intent of these laws is to ensure that consumers can get proper compensation when they purchase a defective product. Vehicles that fall under lemon laws could qualify for a refund, replacement, or repair, depending on the state and situation.

What Categories a Car Fails Under a Lemon Law Claim

When it comes to a lemon law claim, what categories a car falls under is critical to understand. The main categories are:

1. New Car

A vehicle must be new to fall under the umbrella of a lemon law claim, as these laws are designed to protect buyers from purchasing a faulty product. Most states define the terms “new” as a vehicle that has been driven less than 20,000 miles or is less than two years old from the original purchase date.

2. Severe Defects

For a vehicle to qualify as a lemon, the defects must be severe and substantially impair the vehicle’s functionality, safety, or value. Examples of severe defects may include issues with brakes, steering, or the transmission. The defects must be deemed non-reparable, or repair attempts must have failed to fix the issue.

3. Multiple Repair Attempts

To qualify as a lemon, a vehicle must have undergone multiple repair attempts to fix the issue. The number of attempts varies by state, but it is usually around three to four for the same problem. In some cases, a single repair attempt for serious safety issues may be enough to qualify a vehicle as a lemon.

4. Warranty Coverage

A car must be covered by a warranty to qualify as a lemon. If a consumer bought a car “as-is,” it would not be covered by lemon laws, and any repairs would be their responsibility.

5. Time and Mileage Criteria

Most states require that the defects arise within a specific period of time and mileage criteria. The specifics vary, but the defects must usually arise in the first few years or few thousand miles.

The Importance of Following Proper Procedures with Lemon Law Claims

If you believe your car falls under the categories of a lemon, it is essential to follow proper procedures to make a lemon law claim. The first step is to have the vehicle inspected and diagnosed by an authorized dealership or mechanic. Then, you must notify the manufacturer of the defect and give them the chance to correct it. Keep a record of all communication and repair attempts during this process.

If dealerships or manufacturers fail to correct the issue, you may have the opportunity to file a lemon law claim. The specific process varies by state, but you will need to fill out forms and provide evidence to support your claim.

It is crucial to work with a lemon law attorney who understands the laws in your state and can guide you throughout the process. Lemon laws can be complex, and an attorney can help you navigate the system to ensure that your rights are protected.


Lemon laws exist to protect consumers from purchasing a car that is a defective product. If you believe your vehicle may fall under the categories of a lemon, it is essential to follow the proper procedures to make a lemon law claim. This includes having the vehicle inspected, notifying the manufacturer, and keeping a record of communication and repair attempts. Work with a lemon law attorney to ensure your rights are protected.

Semantic Keywords: Lemon Laws, Defective, Mechanical Issues, Substantially Impair, New Car, Severe Defects, Multiple Repair Attempts, Warranty Coverage, Lemon Law Claim, Authorized Dealership, Manufacturer, Lemon Law Attorney.


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