The federal “lemon law”, also called the Magnuson-Moss Warranty Act, provides legal recourse for anyone who has purchased a car that repeatedly fails to live up to its expected standards of quality and performance (hence the defective car being called a “lemon”, or a dud). Each state has its own version of the lemon law with variations on what is covered. The federal lemon laws, and many state lemon laws, cover any mechanical flaws as well as require that the warrantor pay the owner’s attorney fees if the suit is successful. Since lemon laws deal with the manufacturer’s breach of warranty in producing and selling a dud car, not all state lemon laws cover used or leased vehicles; furthermore, your state’s warranty period may not coincide with the actual car warranty.

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Before filing a suit, you’ll need to be sure that your car qualifies as a “lemon” under your state’s laws. If your car is not considered a lemon, you may still have other legal options under the federal lemon law or consumer protection acts. Generally, if you’ve had to repair the car four or more times for the same problem within the warranty period, and it hasn’t been fixed, the car qualifies as a lemon. Sometimes having as many as 10 different defects is not enough to qualify you, other times one serious defect that isn’t fixed on the first try is sufficient grounds for a suit. The only way to know is to check with your state.

Depending on your state, if you have proper documentation you may only need to file a complaint. On the other hand, if your state requires you to hire a lawyer to file suit, you can use Rocket Lawyer to Find a Lawyer in your area who’s right for you. Be aware that only about half the states allow you to recover your attorney fees, and the federal lemon law only allows you to collect attorney fees if you win.

Lemon laws also apply to RVs, boats, motorcycles, and even computers.

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Get started Create Your Car Bill of Sale Answer a few questions. We'll take care of the rest.