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    What is a “lemon law?”

    Date: 10.24.10 | by Judge Tom.

    In the 1800s people referred to others who were unfriendly as “lemons.”  Over time the word was used to describe anything that was broken or defective.  A car, for example, that continuously broke down was called a lemon.

    In 1975, a federal law was passed regarding warranties on consumer products.*  Since then, the states have added their own lemon laws that differ from each and must be referred to for the specifics.

    Generally, lemon laws protect you from mechanical problems–to protect you from repeated failures to meet standards of quality and performance.  Consumer protection laws also come into play when you’re faced with any of the following car problems:
    • prior history of mechanical problems known to the
    • a rolled back odometer
    • previously salvaged or wrecked 
    • stolen, stripped or rebuilt car
    • car involved in a flood
    • undisclosed rental, police car or taxi

    Little Blue Hen (Flickr)

    In some states lemon laws do not apply to used or leased vehicles.  The laws are not necessarily limited to cars.  RVs, boats, motorcycles and wheelchairs may be included under your state’s lemon law.

    If you’re buying a car for the first time, new or used, take a parent or someone you trust with you.  If you think you got stuck with a lemon, talk with your parents and possibly a lawyer for advice. 

    *Magnuson-Moss Warranty Act, 15 U.S. Code 2301 (1975).

    For detailed information about your state’s Lemon Law, go to:  http://www.lemonlawamerica.com/

    Judge Tom

    This post was written by Judge Tom. Judge Tom is the founder and moderator of AsktheJudge.info. He is a retired juvenile judge and spent 23 years on the bench. He has written several books for lawyers and judges as well as teens and parents including the recently published 'Teen Cyberbullying Investigated' (Free Spirit Publishing). When he's not answering teens' questions, Judge Tom can be found hiking, traveling and reading.

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