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How good are lemon laws, anyhow?

Just curious as to whether used vehicles are generally covered under lemon laws? I am assuming the laws differ from state to state. I know I got a lemon with my Honda but it is too late to do anything about now(I purchased the car last June), but would like to know how I can protect myself in the future, if at all possible.

Bumping up.


Go to in order to read the details of the Lemon Law for your particular state. Likely, you will find that used cars are not covered, but only by taking the time to educate yourself will you learn what you need to know.

I can tell you that these laws are VERY effective when utilized properly by a car owner who has a significant mechanical/electronic problem with his new car.

Lemon laws are only for new vehicles as far as I know. Most used cars are sold as-is.

Did you have a complete inspection by a mechanic before you bought the car? If not, you should have.

What exactly is wrong with the car?

Thanx for the feedback VDCdriver. Do you have an example of a significant mechanical/electrical problem?

The lemon laws work but there are several steps to follow. Read up on the lemon laws and by all means keep all your paperwork. The dealership has absolutely no power in resolving your claim as they are strictly a “middleman” in all of this. You have to use the dealership as paperwork providers only. If you have a real lemon then you go on up the chain to the zone manager and then on to an arbitrator if necessary. The zone manager in my case spent about 5 minutes looking over the paperwork and made a very satisfactory judgement for me. I got a check and a new car out of my automotive ordeal. The system works.

How old or new(year) and mileage of your Honda?

If you really only had 30k on the car Honda power train 5yr/60k would cover. Also Honda has a 8yr/100k warranty on automatics in the early 2000’s due high rate of failure.

Nothing you mention indicates “lemon” in terms of the law. Lemon means multiple attempts to fix the same problem with no resolve by auto dealer. It does not cover differing repairs.

The best way to protect yourself in the future with used cars is to a pay mechanic for a pre purchase inspection.

While this may not necessarily apply to the statute in your state, here is a quote from the NJ statute:

To qualify under the Lemon Law, the defect must substantially impair the use, value or safety of the vehicle. However, the Lemon Law does not cover defects caused by an accident, vandalism, abuse or neglect. It also does not cover defects caused by attempts to repair or to modify the vehicle by a person other than the manufacturer, its agent or an authorized dealer.

Just as beauty exists in the eye of the beholder, I suppose that the actual meaning of " the defect must substantially impair the use, value or safety of the vehicle" may exist in the mind of the car owner. In other words, if he/she claims that the defect “impairs…”, then it does, unless the defect is truly something insignificant like a paint chip or something else that can be easily remedied.

I can tell you that I used the NJ Lemon Law to beat Toyota into submission sufficiently for them to send a Japanese engineer and the Regional Service Representative to the dealership in order to repair the remote starter on my friend’s '08 Rav-4. Since I had harnessed the statute effectively and had informed them that the next repair attempt would be their last bite of the apple before a new replacement vehicle would be due, they went out of their way to not have to give my friend that new vehicle. But, if they had been unsuccessful on that 3rd repair attempt, a new, identical vehicle (or a full refund, including registration and other fees) would have been due under the terms of the statute.

However, with a used vehicle, all bets are off, and normally the only protection that a used car buyer will have is the limited (30 day?) warranty that might be included. Take the time to read the statute for your state to see exactly what protections are offered. More than likely, you will see references only to new cars.

Lemon laws are about dealerships more than they are cars. I doubt in this day and age there’s really even such a thing as a “lemon” (as in a single car that for whatever reason is a total basket case the moment it rolls off the assembly line), but there sure is such a thing as a dealership that just doesn’t want to actually go through the steps to diagnose a tricky problem or who’s generally sloppy repair work leads to lots of recurring problems.

But, yeah, not usually an option for used cars, although some states have buy-back laws for used cars where you can go back on a used car deal within some number of hours.