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What Makes a Car a Lemon? 5 Things You Need to Know

One of the biggest fears any car owner may have is that they’ve bought a lemon. Lemons can sometimes be hard to spot when buying a car, especially because each state has its own lemon laws that may be better for buyers or sellers.

While each state differs in their lemon laws, there are some things that stay pretty consistent throughout. And, if you’re buying a car, these are things you should commit to memory as you look to strike a deal.

Here are 5 things you need to know about what makes a car a lemon.

1. The Car has a Substantial Defect

The substantial defect has become the key phrase when it comes to dealing with lemons. Substantial defects do not include annoyances (as we will cover later) but include serious issues with the car’s drivability and value.

Faulty brakes or steering issues are some of the biggest examples of substantial defects, though the lack of clarity makes it so that even something like a harsh odor has been considered a defect in the past.

2. The Car is Undrivable 

If you discover that the car you bought is undrivable, that presents an obvious issue. Undrivable does not just mean that the car doesn’t start. Safety issues such as faulty brakes can actually make a car “undrivable”, so be sure to stay on top of any issues that may risk your safety. 

3. Multiple Repair Attempts Have Been Made

The second aspect of the lemon law that is important is that repair attempts must be made. For the most part, only one repair attempt (and failure) is needed if the car has a safety defect. For other defects, three or four attempts must fail in order to consider the car a lemon.

Related Reading:  Dealership or Local Mechanic: What's In a Car Repair Price?

4. The Issue is Not the Owner’s Fault

Sometimes, it may be hard to distinguish when a car’s issue was caused by negligence. But, when the car’s problems are not caused by the owner, you know that the car is a lemon. This is one of the most contentious points in many lemon law cases, and one key reason why hiring a service like Lemon Proof could be key before you buy a new car.

5. Annoyances Are NOT Covered

Unfortunately, what makes a car a lemon is very strictly defined to extreme cases of driving hazards or value hits. Even something that may seem like a big issue such as a faulty A/C or a broken door handle does not guarantee that your car will be considered a lemon.

What Makes a Car a Lemon?

Now that you know what makes a car a lemon, you will be sure to watch out for the important signs and be prepared in case you are stuck with a lemon. If that is the case, be sure to get ready to fight back for your car’s value.

For more auto repair and mechanic tips for new and used cars alike, check out our other articles!