What are Lemon Laws and Do They Apply to Used Cars?

May 1st, 2023 by

When you buy a new or used vehicle, there’s a chance that you can get a lemon. If it’s a new vehicle, you may be lucky and get it fixed at no charge. However, the lemon laws of various states only cover used vehicles if dealerships provide a specific type of warranty. Even if you fix the car but it still has defects, it’s still classified as a lemon.

If you bought a lemon vehicle in Ohio, you might want to know how to solve the problem, as you’re not allowed to return it. Fortunately, you may get compensation under the Ohio lemon laws. The law protects you from buying a vehicle that doesn’t meet safety performance standards. In this post, we’ll discuss everything you need to know about lemon laws both in Ohio and across the nation to help you understand how they affect you.

What Are Lemon Laws, and How Do They Affect Your Vehicle?

For sale sign in the front windshield of an old, rusty car.

Lemon laws are rules that are designed to protect consumers if they buy a defective vehicle or other goods and services that don’t meet their purported usefulness or quality. Lemon laws apply to defects that impact a vehicle or product’s safety, use, or value. In the event that the product cannot be repaired successfully after several attempts, the manufacturer must replace it or repurchase it.

Lemon laws have been enacted in all U.S. states and at the federal level to protect consumers from manufacturers who intentionally sell poor-quality or defective products. In most states, lemon laws apply to new cars with brand-new warranties. The warranty helps cover severe defects and damage that occurs through transfers. The rules help victims to recoup their money in various ways.

If you suspect you own a lemon vehicle, it’s critical to understand what qualifies a vehicle as a lemon and how to file for relief. Knowing how lemon laws work in your state is crucial, as different states have different regulations.

Federal Lemon Laws

Federal law requires that you keep a vehicle repair record in the first two years to prove that you have attempted to fix it. The new or used car must be under some form of warranty for the claim to be valid. The repairs must have been made during the first two years of owning the vehicle. You should also keep records of how long the car has been undrivable and why.

You’ll need this critical documentation if you go to court. Having the vehicle repaired by the dealer is also vital, as it helps hold manufacturers liable for the damages. With these laws in effect, you may be refunded, compensated for damages, or given a vehicle replacement.

How Do Lemon Laws Work?

Lemon laws vary by state. As of now, only six states have provisions in place for used cars: New Jersey, Hawaii, Minnesota, Massachusetts, Rhode Island, and New York. Owners with lemon vehicles have a limited time window to report their purchase as a lemon. The limit varies from one state to another. Depending on the jurisdiction, consumers can lodge complaints through the states or other entities selling a remedy to the problem. This can lead to arbitration procedures and hearings, where reasonable efforts to repair the vehicle or product must be shown.

These legislations are challenging to apply to used cars, especially if the manufacturer’s warranty has expired. Even in countries where this law applies to used cars, it’s pretty limiting and rarely helps.

What To Do To Avoid Buying Used Lemon Vehicles

Used vehicles come in various conditions. At a dealership, it’s possible to get a clean car with no issues, and it’s also possible to get a lemon. Be careful with disclaimers that say the vehicle is sold “as is” and lacks a warranty for two main reasons. Any vehicle sold under such disclaimers means you’re alone if you spot any problems after driving off the lot. You’ll be responsible for all the necessary repairs, even if you’re financing the purchase with the dealer.

Any vehicle sold “as is” means it does not have a warranty. For Ohio citizens, this phrase means that the lemon law in Ohio does not protect used cars. The Ohio lemon law only protects vehicles from problems for the first 12 months or 18,000 miles. Therefore, if you get a problematic used lemon vehicle, be prepared to pay for anything that could go wrong after the purchase.

At Cochran Cars, we recommend having a technician and mechanic inspect the car thoroughly before you purchase it. It’s also wise to buy vehicles with at least a 30-day warranty on major components, such as the engine, or that include a short return period in the agreement, during which you can return the car and get a refund.

How Does the Lemon Law Work in Ohio?

Ohio’s lemon law allows consumers to return faulty  vehicles for a replacement or refund if they’re new or meet the used eligibility criteria. However, consumers must allow the manufacturer to fix the issue. Consumers are entitled to compensation if the automaker fails to fix the problem after several attempts.

The Ohio lemon law works for vehicles that you purchase or lease in the state of Ohio. The defect must be proven to affect value or safety, and you must bring the car to the manufacturer for repairs within the first 12 months or 18,000 miles of use. For defects that can cause serious injuries or death, you only need to give the manufacturers one chance to fix the issue before taking legal action. The law allows a maximum of three repair attempts for less dangerous defects.

Is There a Lemon Law in Ohio for Used Cars?

The lemon law in Ohio only covers used vehicles if the reporting period is based on the original purchase date. Therefore, you or the previous owner must report the defect within one year and 18,000 miles of when the original owner purchased the vehicle.

We get it — dealing with a used lemon car in Ohio can be devastating. That’s why we recommend buying thoroughly inspected vehicles from #1 Cochran Chevrolet Buick GMC. Our cars undergo stringent inspections to ensure we don’t accidentally pick a lemon in our lot. Contact us today to view our selections of vehicles and book a test drive.


Image by Hilbert Hill is licensed with Unsplash License

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