Often we hear somebody in a disapproving manner, “That car might be a lemon.” Lemons in this sense have earned itself a negative connotation when it comes to the car industry. According to the Online Etymology Dictionary, the origin of calling defective cars as such might have been because of a slang expression referring to “simpletons” or a person who is a loser. Another source comes from British origin which regards lemons as something defective which is passed on as something legitimate. Lemon laws were passed by different states to protect consumers from dealers selling “lemons,” a.k.a. defective cars.
Lemon Laws are state laws which intend to give car buyers a remedy against car dealers which are repeatedly not able to comply with a car’s express and implied warranties—otherwise put, those standards of quality and performance which are not met by the dealer. Express warranties are defined as a written warranty issued by a manufacturer of a new motor vehicle, including any terms or conditions precedent to the enforcement of obligations under that warranty. Cars not complying with warranties are considered “nonconforming.” Nonconforming vehicles are those with a “nonconforming condition,” which is any condition which does not conform to express warranties which impairs the use of the vehicle, or that which arises in the ordinary course of using the vehicle but does not arise as a result of neglect or modification not authorized by the manufacturer, nor from any accident or damage.
Every state has its own lemon laws. They are generally the same in the sense that they all provide protection to consumers in the form of free repair provided that it is within one year or longer, or after a few thousand miles, depending on the contract. The lemon law mandates that the dealer repair it within the so-called “lemon period.” If from the date of delivery of the car, the manufacturer, dealer or repairing agent is unable to conform to its express warranties after a reasonable number of attempts, such manufacturer or dealer is enjoined to accept the return of the nonconforming vehicle, and at the owner’s option, shall replace it with a new one or refund the full purchase price less a reasonable amount of depreciation the vehicle has been subject since it was delivered.
Different state laws may differ when it comes to construing what is the “reasonable number of attempts” before a motor vehicle could be considered a lemon therefore subjecting the dealer or manufacture under the obligations of the lemon laws. Most states consider three or more times “reasonable” to consider a manufacturer or dealer subject to lemon laws.