Lemon Title: What It Means and How to Avoid
A Lemon Title is a permanent branded title issued for vehicles deemed lemons according to the state's lemon law. Lemon laws were introduced to protect buyers from defective products, although the word lemon was originally a slang term. Specifically, lemon car laws determine which cars are considered lemon cars. In most states, in order to be considered a lemon, the car must comply with the following general criteria:
- a vehicle must have substantial defect
- the defect must be covered by warranty and occur within a certain period after purchase
- the defect persists after a reasonable number of repair attempts
The lemon brand also permanently remains on the vehicle history reports as it is required by lemon laws in order to protect consumers in the used car market.
Whether or not a vehicle gets a lemon status largely depends or the laws of a particular state. The difference may be in:
- the number of attempts the manufacturer has to fix the vehicle
- the timeframe within which the manufacturer has to fix the vehicle
- the 'significant' defects as well as the severety of issues may vary and not all of issues resulting from errors in the manufacturing process will put the vehicle into a lemon category.
In each state the lemon law may have peculiarities and quite often car owners need the help of a lemon lawyer. If your vehicle is finally recognized to be a lemon it is branded with a 'lemon law buyback' title and the manufacturer will have to take the vehicle back and give you full refund. Please note there will be a deduction calculated based on the mileage it ran before the 'significant' defect in the car was releaved.
Unlike junk, rebuilt or salvage titles, lemon title vehicles are often relatively new because the major defect reveals itself quite early. Often, a defect is observed in brand new vehicles which aren't supposed to have any issues at all as compared to used vehicles, so the issue is easy to notice.
Can a Dealership Sell Me a Lemon?
Sellig a lemon vehicle is legal only if the automaker fixes the vehicle, brands the vehicle with a 'lemon law buyback' title, and discloses the title to a prospective buyer.
It is not prohibited to sell vehicles branded as lemons. However, the following requirements should be met:
- The vehicle title must have a 'lemon' brand and the brand must be disclosed to the prospective buyer
- The nature of the defect must be disclosed
- The informatin of repairs made to fix the defect must be provided
- The defect must be repaired to conform to warranty.
How Can I Avoid a Car Lemon?
Check VIN history and see if any 'lemon' brandings are mentioned.