Is the car dealership I bought a lemon car from responsible under lemon law, too?

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Jeffrey Johnson is a legal writer with a focus on personal injury. He has worked on personal injury and sovereign immunity litigation in addition to experience in family, estate, and criminal law. He earned a J.D. from the University of Baltimore and has worked in legal offices and non-profits in Maryland, Texas, and North Carolina. He has also earned an MFA in screenwriting from Chapman Univer...

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UPDATED: Jul 16, 2021

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The lemon law protects consumers from purchasing defective vehicles. However, lemon law does not generally hold a car dealership personally responsible, should a vehicle sold on their lot turn out to be a lemon.

While lemon law varies, on both state and federal levels, the key to understanding how lemon law works is to note that the law determines the responsible party as being the one who is behind any warranty that may exist on the product. With a vehicle purchase, the manufacturer’s warranty covers the vehicle, and thus, under lemon law, they would be the ones responsible for a lemon and would be the ones for a consumer to pursue in the legal matter. When it comes to lemon law, the reasoning behind this is simple. In a case where a lemon exists, the definition of the term insinuates that the product was flawed during manufacturing, or defective upon creation. Thus, responsibility for it will be traced back to those responsible for its production and its release onto the market. Under lemon law, this makes the manufacturer the one who may be held accountable.

Keep in mind that a dealer may offer to trade should you feel your car is a lemon, but this is a common tactic for shady car dealers to move cars from the lot, and the dealer knows that they’re not responsible for lemons under lemon law. This is why it’s important to get a warranty from the dealer, which will cover that specific purchase and allow you to return the vehicle if you experience problems. The lemon law itself will not hold your car dealership responsible.

If you need help understanding the lemon law in your state, or you have a car you believe is a lemon, it’s in your best interest to consult with a lawyer. Your attorney can help you determine who should be held responsible for the defective vehicle under the lemon law, and an attorney can also help you to file a claim to recover your losses. 

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