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What to know about state lemon laws

Lemon laws protect motor vehicle consumers from shady tactics by salespeople who want to unload sub-standard cars without informing the consumer of the countless problems they will likely face after the purchase.

Virginia’s Motor Vehicle Warranty Enforcement Act mandates that motor vehicle manufacturers who sell you a “lemon” either refund your money or replace the vehicle. It is important to note that lemon laws vary from state to state. What is covered in Virginia may not apply elsewhere. What most laws have in common include:

  • The defect directly affects the safety or value of the car
  • Defects not fixed in a reasonable amount of time or remaining in the shop for a specific amount of hours
  • Abuse, mishandling, or lack of routine maintenance was not the cause of the defect
  • The manufacturer’s warranty covers the defect

Qualifying under Virginia’s lemon law

To qualify under Virginia’s lemon law, your car purchased in the state must have an issue that affects safety, value, and use. Also, the vehicle must have gone in for repairs three or more times with the same problems. What is referred to as the “lemon law rights period” is in place for eighteen months following delivery of a new vehicle. Vehicles out of service for more than thirty days in one year qualifies as well

While wide-ranging in its scope, Virginia’s lemon law does not provide overage for used vehicles. Like most other states, a manufacturer’s warranty must cover any future problems the car may experience. Most vehicles are passed on to a different owner long after a warranty’s expiration date.

To date, federal lemon laws are non-existent.

Filing a lemon law claim is not only crucial for all consumers. Think of it as a message for motor vehicle manufacturers who try to sidestep state regulations with their less-than-honest sales practices.