Lemon Law

A motor vehicle that contains a defect or condition that significantly impairs its safety, use, or market value could be a “lemon.” If you’ve purchased or leased such a vehicle in Virginia, you may be entitled to either a replacement vehicle or refund of your purchase price under the Virginia Motor Vehicle Warranty Enforcement Act (MVWEA), or “Lemon Law.”

Your vehicle Could Be a Lemon If:   

  • It was purchased or leased in Virginia and is covered by a warranty; and
  • It is used for personal, family, or household purposes; and
  • It is a passenger vehicle (up to 10 passengers), a pickup or panel truck of no more than 7,500 pounds gross weight, a motorcycle, or a leased vehicle; and
  • The vehicle has a defect or condition that significantly impairs its use, market value, or safety, even if the defect or condition doesn’t affect the vehicle’s drivability.

What Defects or Conditions are Covered?

  • The Lemon Law covers any nonconformity, which it defines as a defect or condition that significantly impairs a vehicle’s use, market value, or safety. 
  • The Lemon Law presumes that a vehicle has a nonconformity if within 18 months of the vehicle’s delivery date: 
    • the manufacturer or dealer has made three or more attempts to repair the same issue;
    • the manufacturer or dealer has made one or more repair attempts to fix a serious safety defect; or
    • in a single year, the vehicle was out of service due to repairs for a cumulative 30 calendar days or more. 
  • The law doesn’t provide remedies for nonconformities that result from consumer abuse, neglect, or unauthorized modifications or alterations. 

My Car Is a Lemon! Now What?         

  • Before the vehicle’s warranty period expires, the manufacturer or authorized dealer must be notified that the vehicle has a nonconformity. The manufacturer or dealer must then make the necessary repairs so that the vehicle conforms to its warranty, even if the warranty period has expired. 
  • The manufacturer must either provide a comparable, acceptable replacement vehicle or refund the vehicle’s purchase price if the nonconformity can’t be repaired or corrected during the 18-month Lemon Law period. You have an unconditional right to a refund, rather than replacement, and may drive the nonconforming vehicle until the replacement or refund is provided. 
  • The law includes strict timelines for action. Legal action or a request for informal dispute resolution must be initiated within 18 months of the vehicle’s delivery date. 
  • If you’ve chosen informal dispute resolution by this 18-month deadline, you’ll be able to assert your Lemon Law rights later on if the matter can’t be informally resolved.   

   If You Are Buying a Vehicle

  • Protect yourself when buying a used car by using the Vehicle Identification Number (VIN) to confirm the vehicle’s repair history.  Multiple repairs may indicate a lemon buyback.  Contact the manufacturer and use the VIN to obtain the vehicle’s defect history.
  • Lemons that have been returned to the manufacturer may be resold. Consequently, if buying or leasing from a dealer, ask for a copy of the vehicle’s defect history before the transaction’s final. 
    • The Virginia Lemon Law imposes disclosure obligations on both the manufacturers and dealers involved in the resale or lease of returned vehicles.
    • You may have bought a lemon buyback from a dealer who didn’t disclose the vehicle’s defect history. If so, contact the Motor Vehicle Dealer Board (MVDB) or call 804-367-1050. The MVDB may suggest you file a claim with the Virginia Motor Vehicle Transaction Recovery Fund, which reimburses persons who have suffered loss or damage in connection with the purchase or lease of a motor vehicle due to illegal actions of licensed or registered dealers or salespersons.

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Fax: 703-653-1310
Email: consumer@fairfaxcounty.gov


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