The Lemon Laws

Lemon cars, trucks, vans and SUV’s are everywhere. Various statistics that I have seen indicate that anywhere from 1 out of 100 to 1 out of 8 vehicles are lemons. Staggering statistics, to say the least. A Lemon, by definition, is a defective vehicle. All states have Lemon Laws that provide protection to you in the event that you have purchased a lemon. These law vary from state to state, but all have common themes.

The first common theme is the defective condition of the vehicle. In other words, something has to go wrong with your vehicle. The state Lemon Laws typically define what elements satisfy the defective condition requirement in order to be classified as a lemon. In Pennsylvania, for instance, the vehicle must exhibit a defect or non-conformity that substantially impairs the use, value or safety of the vehicle. In my experience, these types of defects usually consist of defective brakes, transmissions, engines, suspensions, steering and things of that nature. Claims for electrical failures, noise and leaks usually are sufficient as well.

The next common theme among the state Lemon Laws is the obligation to attempt repairs. Each state Lemon Law sets forth that the manufacturer must be given a reasonable number of attempts to repair the vehicle’s defective condition. In Pennsylvania, that number is three. Some other states have the repair requirements set at four or more. If the Manufacturer or its agent (the dealer) cannot repair the vehicle after a reasonable number of attempts, you have a lemon.

The third common theme amongst state Lemon Laws is the remedy that you are entitled to if you have a lemon. Most states provide that the consumer is entitled to a full refund of the purchase price OR a free replacement vehicle. Some states go even further. In Pennsylvania the remedy includes all collateral charges as well as the purchase price, including taxes, title charges, down payment, interest and more. If you choose the refund election you may end up getting every dollar back that you put into the vehicle. In addition, most states provide for the recovery of attorney fees and costs as well.