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What lemon laws say about leased vehicles

California and most other U.S. states have lemon laws that are designed to protect car buyers from getting stuck with a faulty vehicle, whether it's new or used. Because leasing has become a popular method of acquiring cars for both personal and business use, many people may wonder if leased cars qualify under lemon laws. The answer to that is yes, but the requirements for manufacturers to compensate customers are different.

The term "lemon when used by most people can refer to any car that continually needs repairs. Legally, certain criteria must be met for a car to be considered a lemon and covered under lemon law, but the law does cover both used and new vehicles and includes cars, trucks, motorcycles, boats and other types of vehicles. The specifics of lemon laws vary by state, but generally a vehicle is considered a lemon if it has a defect that cannot be repaired after a certain number of attempts.

Car manufacturers are required to reimburse buyers who have a lemon by either refunding the purchase price or replacing the car with one that is the same model or a similar model. In the case of vehicles that were leased, the manufacturer must pay off the lease and refund any down payment or mileage costs.

Someone who buys or leases a car that turns out to be a lemon usually has the right to file a lemon law claim even after the warranty has expired, or in some cases even if they no longer have the car. In California, an owner or lessee has up to four years after the warranty has expired to file a lemon law claim. A vehicle in the state can be considered a lemon if only two repair attempts were made, as long as at least one of them was during the warranty period.

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