What qualifications must my car meet to be considered a lemon vehicle?

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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: Feb 20, 2013

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What constitutes a Lemon varies somewhat from state to state.

Generally a defect covered by the Lemon Law must be a defect which substantially impairs the use, value or safety of your vehicle. Lemon laws generally place time or mileage limitations on when the defect must be presented to the manufacturer or authoirzed dealer in order to be covered under the Lemon Law. The manufacturer must repair the defect within a reasonable number of repair attempts. If the manufacturer fails to repair the defect or defects in the vehicle within a reasonable number of repair attempts, the consumer is entitled to a repurchase or replacement of the vehicle.

What constitutes a reasonable number of repair attempts varies from state-to-state. The number of repair attempts also varies depending on the nature of the defect. In some states if the defect is of such a character that there is a substantial risk of death or serious bodily injury if the vehicle is driven, the vehicle is presumed to be a lemon if the defect continues to exist after one repair attempt. If the defect does not fall into this catagory, then additional repair attempts are required.

In many states (for example, in Ohio), three repair attempts at the same defect which continues to exist is sufficient for a buy back or replacement. Other states, such as California, New York, Indiana, Kentucky, Vermont, Wisconsin, require four repair attempts to repair the same defect before a consumer is entitled to a buy back or repurchase.

Additionally, many state lemon laws, such as Ohio, provide that a vehicle is a lemon if the vehicle has been out of service by reason of repair for a total number of days such as thirty days. Other states (e.g., Kentucky, Indiana) require a longer period, such as 45 days.

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