July 12, 2024

What is the lemon law for used cars – All you need to know

Buying a vehicle is similar to an investment, out of which we try to get the long-lasting and highest profit. Nobody wants to get a car that will frequently need repairs and visits to the service centers. While purchasing a vehicle, we all imagine comfortable rides with no interruptions. In case of buying a new automobile, we are guaranteed by manufacturers’ warranty. But what happens if we are limited on budget and want to get a used vehicle? 

Purchasing a used car seems risky, as we don’t own detailed information about its previous experience, accidents, how well it was kept, etc. While buying a used vehicle before making the final decision you should know what is lemon law for used cars, how it protects you from unforeseen circumstances, whether it applies to used automobiles or not, and how to report the lemon law. Below you will find all the needed information related to a lemon law that keeps you on the safe side and lowers risks related to used vehicles. 

What is lemon law for used cars and how it works

While buying a car we all try to check each and every detail to be on the safe side. The last thing we want to get out of the purchase is frequent visits to the service centers. The pre-purchase inspection might be much longer if we are buying a used vehicle. We try to thoroughly check each item and get detailed information about its technical side. Nonetheless, there are some tips that help us to check a used vehicle’s reliability, sometimes we get disappointment. For avoiding disappointments there was created a Lemon Law, that protects consumers from unforeseen expenses and circumstances. First of all, we will review all the needed information about the lemon law, how it works, and then we will clarify how can you report a lemon law for used cars. So let’s start from the beginning.

What is a lemon law in general?

Lemon law is the United States state law. The term “lemon” refers to a defective product. The law applies to any state, but there are different criteria for some states. All states have some form of a new car lemon law. The exact criteria vary by state. Some states cover only automobiles purchased for individual use but not for business use. Generally, the law protects consumers to be compensated for products that fail to perform under the standards of quality. 

Nonetheless, there are some different criteria for each state, new vehicle lemon law protects consumers who have purchased defective vehicles or goods. Under the law, the manufacturer is obliged to reimburse or replace the defective vehicle in the following circumstances:

  • If the vehicle has a significant defect, that the manufacturer can’t repair within a reasonable period of time and due to the fact the purchased vehicle is unavailable for the consumer. 
  • If repairs cannot be completed within the total number of days as indicated in the statute.
  • In case several repair attempts were done for the same technical issue.

What is the lemon law for used cars?

As you might have explored, all the above-mentioned definition applies for new cars. But what about used vehicles? Does it mean that the law works only for new vehicles? Of course, no. Even if you have purchased or leased a used vehicle, your car can still qualify under the lemon laws, only if you bought it with a written warranty. Under this warranty, the dealer should repair defective parts free of charge. In case the dealer is unable to repair the car after several attempts, then the consumer is entitled to a full refund. 

Now since you already have some picture about what is lemon law for used cars, let’s dive in a bit deeper and explore which cases will use vehicles qualify under the law.

In which cases are used vehicles qualified under the lemon law?

Nonetheless, lemon laws apply to used vehicles, as well, they should meet some requirements. 

  • First of all, a vehicle should be purchased / leased below 18,000 miles or two years since the release;
  • The vehicle should be used only for personal purposes;
  • Before clarifying how can you report a lemon law for used cars, please take into account that the car should have covered less than 100,000 miles since the purchase;

How can you report a lemon law for used cars?

While talking about the lemon law, the most important thing is to clarify how to use its benefits in practice. We’ve already reviewed some information about what is the lemon law for used cars, and know what it is about and which requirements should the car meet. I guess now it’s time to move on to the most useful part and clarify how you can report a lemon law, but before this, we should know whether the law works in your state of residence. As you might remember, the lemon laws for new automobiles apply for all the states, but not for the used ones. 

Here is the list of states, where every dealer knows what is lemon law for used cars.

  • New York 
  • New Jersey 
  • Massachusetts
  • Minnesota
  • Hawaii
  • Rhode Island

If you live in one of the above-mentioned states and your car mileage was below 18,000 miles as of the day of purchase, or you have covered less than 100,000 miles and found out that some parts need to be repaired, don’t worry. Under the lemon law, you are protected and can get free of charge repairs. 

Reporting an issue under the lemon law

And last but not least, let’s find out how can you report a lemon law for used cars. 

  1. First of all, you should check whether the warranty covers existing technical issue;
  2. Review some laws before submitting a report to the manufacturer or dealer. Reviewing Center (NCLC) guide to lemon laws can help you to be clarified in official part and be ready for the negotiation;
  3. Report an existing issue to the dealership and manufacturer of a car; 
  4. Document everything related to repairs done either by a dealer or manufacturer. Keep any supporting documents;
  5. In case the same problem occurs again, inform the manufacturer immediately; 
  6. If all the above-mentioned steps won’t help you to solve the issue and problems continue to persist you can think about requesting a refund from the manufacturer;


All in all, nonetheless all the above-mentioned information might seem overwhelming, but hopefully, you found it interesting. On the one hand, reviewing what is the lemon law for used cars before purchase might seem boring, as we are excited to get a vehicle and can’t wait to ride it. But on the other hand, it’s very important to know all the information that helps us to be on the safe side and protects our rights. I’m sure you will enjoy your purchase and your car provides long-lasting and comfortable rides without reviewing warranty details. 

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