Unless you know what is lemon law for used cars, you might easily get tricked by dealers and end up with a useless vehicle. It’s a law that protects buyers and lessees and enables them to get certain benefits if they end up with a lemon.

It’s quite common for certain dealers to lie about a vehicle’s history or avoid disclosing the full information. As a result, consumers are left with unrepairable cars. To prevent that from happening, some of the states use lemon laws.

Let’s see what this law implies, where it’s used, and what you can do if you end up with a lemon.

What is the lemon law for used cars?

It’s a law that requires dealers to provide a written warranty when consumers purchase used cars from them. It’s there to make sure buyers are protected if they end up with a useless car.

If you’re not familiar with the automotive dictionary, you might not understand what “lemon” means. It’s a common term that we use to describe cars that are either useless or damaged. Generally, if we refer to a vehicle as a lemon, we want to say that it’s a piece of junk – it’s as simple as that.

As mentioned, the lemon law requires dealers to provide you with a warranty. If the car is a lemon, the dealer must cover the costs of the repairs. If those repairs don’t fix the issue and the vehicle still doesn’t work properly, the consumer is eligible for a full refund or a replacement.

The particular conditions of the lemon law or the terms of the warranty vary depending on the state.

For instance, in New York it applies to any used car that is used for personal reasons, was worth at least $1,500, had less than 100,000 miles on the clock at the time of purchase, was bought from a local dealer, and was transferred earlier than two years from delivery.

In Connecticut, the vehicle should be worth $3,000 or more to be eligible for the express warranty.

As you can see, these conditions vary significantly from one state to another. You should always check out the law in your location to make sure you know how can you report a lemon law for used cars.

If you aren’t eligible, you’ll end up wasting your time and vice versa, you may miss out on a chance to get a refund or covered repairs.

The parts that should be covered with a warranty

Once again, the list of parts that should be covered with a warranty might differ depending on the state. If you want to know what is the lemon law for used cars, you need to know the general lists of applicable parts.

On the whole, the dealer is required to include vital parts in the warranty, namely the engine (and all of its relevant parts), transmission, steering, brakes, drive axle, radiator, generator, ignition system, alternator, and starter.

If one of these parts malfunctions during the length of the warranty, the dealer is obliged to try to repair them.

The dealer has approximately three chances to fix the issues and if not, they will need to replace the vehicle.

You should keep in mind that the warranty won’t cover the parts that don’t interfere with the value of the car. Neither will it be eligible for the benefits of the warranty if you abuse or damage it.

Certain states might not require dealers to provide a full refund. Once again, these laws vary significantly from one state to another.

Nevertheless, it’s still important to understand what is lemon law for used cars in general so that you can double-check the details locally.

The states which use the lemon law for used cars

Before we move on to discussing how can you report a lemon law for used cars, we need to see which states have the law, to begin with.

Unfortunately, not all states provide their residents with the lemon law for used cars. It operates in six states only. These are New York, Connecticut, Massachusetts, New Jersey, Minnesota, and New Mexico.

These states are the ones that require a warranty from the dealers. Even though the conditions vary, they all provide consumers with certain protections against useless vehicles.

There are 7 other states that don’t have the lemon law for used cars, but they do have certain means to protect the rights of the consumers. These states are Arizona, Illinois, Maine, Nevada, and Pennsylvania.

However, those means as effective as the lemon law in the sense that they don’t necessarily require dealers to provide a replacement or refund the purchase.

The lemon law itself and, especially, the other means of protecting consumers’ rights, aren’t efficient enough to guarantee the best practices for buyers. What I mean is that warranties are quite limited and dealers find ways around it.

For example, even if your car is covered with a 60-day warranty, the problems with its parts might not become noticeable till that time expires. And as a result, you’re left with a car that you’ll probably have to dispose of.

Still, it’s better to have at least some protection against fraudulent practices. That’s why every one of us should know what is the lemon law for used cars.

How can you report a lemon law for used cars?

We’ve already covered what is lemon law for used cars, but what happens if you actually own a lemon? What are the steps you should take to get what you deserve?

In other words, how can you report a lemon law for used cars?

Here’s what you need to do:

Verify that you have lemon with online research

Check the vehicle with history reports that are available online. You can even go the extra mile and examine the history via the government’s National Motor Vehicle Title Information System. In other words, get your hands on any reliable information to find out if the car had been through an accident or if it had some issues with the title.

Double-check that information with relevant professionals

Once you verify that something’s fishy with your car, you can use the service of experienced mechanics to examine the condition of the vehicle. They need to find what is wrong with the car and identify any structural damage.

Show the dealer all the facts

Take all the relevant documentation with you and talk to your dealer. They should satisfy your requirements at this point and cover the costs according to the terms of the warranty.

File a complaint if the dealership doesn’t satisfy the terms of the warranty

If they resist, you can always turn to the law (that’s the very reason why lemon laws exist). You should file a complaint via the government’s Consumer Action website. There, you’ll find out which forms to file, which department is responsible for your case, etc.

Find a decent lemon lawyer

You could fight for your rights on your own, but it’s still better to find a decent lemon lawyer to deal with the case. They will explain everything better and have better chances of winning the case. You could even consult them before you file your complaint.


Be it the dealers or other companies, we as consumers are often made to feel that we’re not important. When we’re deceived or manipulated, it seems we can’t do anything to fight for our rights. But sometimes we need to know what those rights are ourselves to be able to notice injustice.

Knowing what is the lemon law for used cars and what you can do if you’re left with a piece of junk will help you protect yourself from fraudulent practices of dealerships. It’s always better to take preventive measures before you make the purchase. But if you end up with a lemon anyway, fight for your rights and get your money’s worth.

Hopefully, the lemon laws for used cars will develop further and include more favorable conditions for the buyers.