Federal Lemon Law

Have you heard of the federal lemon law? Most people haven’t. Lemon laws are generally determined by individual state statues. However, the federal law, also referred to as the Magnuson-Moss Warranty Act, applies to all products sold with warranties.



What is the Federal Lemon Law?

The Magnuson-Moss Warranty Act is the federal lemon law that protects the buyer of any product which costs more than $25 and comes with an express written warranty. This law applies to any product that you buy that does not perform as it should. Obviously your car is a significant investment.

It is not unreasonable to expect an automobile to be safe, trouble-free, and a dependable source of transportation. Unfortunately, sometimes these principles do not hold true and automobiles do not perform as expected. Although one defect is not qualify, repeated issues can qualify as a breach of warranty.

Under the Magnuson-Moss Warranty Act, the warranty should allow for adequate repairs in at least two, and possibly three, attempts to correct a particular defect. Further, the Magnuson-Moss Warranty Act’s reasonableness requirement applies to your vehicle as a whole rather than to each individual defect that arises.


lemon law


Although most of the Lemon Laws vary from state to state, each individual law usually require a warrantor to cure or fix a specific defect within four to five attempts or the automobile as a whole within thirty days. If the warrantor fails to meet this obligation, most of the lemon laws provide for a full refund or new replacement vehicle.

One of the most important potential applications of the federal lemon law is regards to used cars. Most state lemon laws do not have provisions for used cars. However, if your state does not have lemon laws for used cars, the Magnuson-Moss Warranty Act may apply. The key is whether your used vehicle was sold with a written warranty. If so, the federal statute may provide for possible restitution not covered by your state statutes.


The Federal Lemon Law and Legal Fees

One of the most important parts of the Magnuson-Moss Warranty Act is its fee shifting provision. This provision provides that you may recover the attorney fees incurred in the prosecution of your case if you are successful, independent of how much you actually win.

That rational behind this fee shifting provision is to twofold: (1) to ensure you will be able to protect your rights without having to expend a large amount of money on attorney's fees and (2) because automobile manufacturers are able to write off all expenses of defense as a legitimate business expense, whereas you, the average consumer, obviously does not have that kind of economic staying power. Most of the state lemon laws contain similar fee shifting provisions.


Restitution Under the Federal Lemon Law

Restitution under the Magnuson-Moss Warranty Act is different than under than under state statutes. Instead of a refund for the defective vehicle, restitution is the difference between the Kelly blue book value of the car in excellent conditions vs. the value of the car in good or poor condition. Again, if you are unclear if the federal law applies to your situation, a lemon law attorney can be consulted at no cost to you to review your case.


What Should You Do If You Have A Lemon?

The first step in determining your course of action is to evaluate your situation based on your state’s lemon laws. Click in the link to your state on the left of this page, read through the information, and determine if your situation qualifies.

If your case does qualify under your state’s statutes, utilize the resource listed in order to organize your records before contacting the dealer and manufacturer. Contacting your state’s attorney general’s office can also be helpful in guiding you to take the necessary steps to seek restitution.

If your situation does not specifically qualify under your state statues or if there are variables that make your situation not clearly fit, consider contacting a lemon law attorney. An attorney can evaluate your individual situation, determine if your case qualifies under your state statues, and determine if the Magnuson-Moss Warranty Act may apply.



Return to Top

Return from Federal Lemon Law to Home


Share your story!

Do you have a story about a lemon? Share it!

Tell your lemon story!

Tell Us Your Story![ ? ]

Author Information (optional)

To receive credit as the author, enter your information below.

Your Name

(first or full name)

Your Location

(e.g., City, State, Country)

Submit Your Contribution

Check box to agree to these submission guidelines.


(You can preview and edit on the next page)

What Other Visitors Have Said

Click below to see contributions from other visitors to this page...

2011 Volkswagen GTI Not rated yet
In April of 2014 my son bought a used 2011 Volkswagen GTI as is no warranties he has been taking good care of it changing the oil etc. In fact, he changed …

Dodge Caliber 2007 SXT Not rated yet
I brought this car on August 28th 2012 so I would have a dependable car to go visit My Mother which is in a nursing home now. Left town the First time …

2006 chevy impala lt Not rated yet
I bought a used 2006 chevy impala with 107,000 miles for $8500 from a licenced chevrolet dealership in the state of Wisconsin. After the first couple of …

2001 Chevy Impala Not rated yet
Monday afternoon I purchased a 2001 Chevy Impala at Roy Robinson Chevrolet in Marysville, WASHINGTON. I drove the car on Tuesday to take my granddaughter …

2006 Cadillac SRX Not rated yet
Im in Florida and purchased a 2006 Cadillac SRX with about 68k mils on it on Feb. 26, 2013. The night I drove off the lot the turn signals went out and …

Purchased a 2001 Nissan Maxima Not rated yet
When I purchased this car, I was told that the only thing wrong with it was that the overdrive didn't work. That was it. I purchased it from my soon to …

NISSAN IS NO GOOD and neither are people! Not rated yet
I just bought a used 2006 Nissan Altima On December the 3rd. I have only had the car for two weeks and its now starting to act up. I just researched the …

Ford F-350 Power Stroke 6.0L Engine Not rated yet
Bought this truck used. Less than a year later 3 injectors and the ERG valve are shot. $2200+ estimated for repairs. A $2810 2 year or 24,000 mile warranty …

2008 FORD EXPLORER Not rated yet
Bought it used 66,000 miles in Oct 2012 with a extended warranty, In Oct 2013 now has 74000 miles. Its been in Planet Fords"Humble,TX" service department …

2008 FORD EXPLORER Not rated yet
Bought it used 66,000 miles in Oct 2012 in Oct 2013 now has 74000 miles. Its been in Planet Fords"Humble,TX" service department 8 times with a different …

BMW doesn't resolve on-going problems after $40k and washes hands of problems Not rated yet
While I had a warranty in place on my 2006 BMW 750i, BMW continued to work on existing problem (s). Some of the problem(s) I've had for the past 40,000 …

Mazda-CX-7 2007 Not rated yet
My Story: I bought a car from the Mazda dealership, a certified SUV CX-7 2007. A year ago, the car started acting up and the engine Oil Leak. We took …

2011 Jeep Liberty with Slider roof Not rated yet
I purchased a 2011 Jeep Liberty with a slider roof in February 2011 and a week before it would have been a year old I found water stains in 3 out of the …

Click here to write your own.