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Is there anything better than that new car smell? And is there anything worse than a new car that spends all day sitting in the shop? Automobiles, new and used, are serious investments, which is why most states have so-called lemon laws that require dealers or manufacturers to either fix or buy back vehicles with seemingly irreparable defects. Lemon laws can vary from state to state, however, so when is it too late to bring a lemon car back to the dealer?
Here's a look:
New and Used Lemons
All 50 states have lemon laws regarding new cars. And their requirements vary regarding the time you have to report a lemon, who to report it to, and how many attempts the manufacturer or dealer can have to repair the vehicle. A few examples:
Six states also have used car lemon laws providing express warranties for used vehicles depending the car's mileage:
Lemons Laws and Cooling-Off Contracts
In addition to lemon laws for new cars, some states, like California, require used car dealers to include cancellation option agreements for sales contracts. The Golden State requires dealers to inform consumers about such agreements, which cost around $250 for a car listed at between $10,000 and $30,000. But they allow the buyer to return the vehicle within two days if they have a change of heart.
The amount of time you have to alert a dealer to a malfunctioning car, and the amount of repair attempts you have to undertake before declaring that car a lemon, will vary depending on where you live. If you have more specific questions, you can contact the consumer protection division at your state attorney general's office, or get in touch with a local consumer protection attorney.