Consumers living in the state of Virginia who purchased or leased a new vehicle that turns out to be a lemon have protection under the Virginia Lemon Law. What is the Virginia Lemon Law and how do you know if it applies to your vehicle? We’ve got the answers in this brief summary of the statute.

What is the Virginia Lemon Law?

Specifically, if your new vehicle is a lemon, according to Virginia Lemon Law, the manufacturer of the vehicle is required to either refund your money or replace the vehicle. The full name of the Virginia Lemon Law is the Virginia Motor Vehicle Warranty Enforcement Act.

Under certain conditions, the Virginia Lemon Law may apply to used vehicles.

Here is the specific language in the Virginia Lemon Law describing the intent of the law:

“The General Assembly recognizes that a motor vehicle is a major consumer purchase, and there is no doubt that a defective motor vehicle creates a hardship for the consumer. It is the intent of the General Assembly that a good faith motor vehicle warranty complaint by a consumer should be resolved by the manufacturer, or its agent, within a specified period of time. It is further the intent of the General Assembly to provide the statutory procedures whereby a consumer may receive a replacement motor vehicle, or a full refund, for a motor vehicle which cannot be brought into conformity with the express warranty issued by the manufacturer. However, nothing in this chapter shall in any way limit the rights or remedies which are otherwise available to a consumer under any other law.”

Motor vehicle, under the Virginia Lemon Law, means only passenger cars, pickup trucks or panel trucks, motorcycles, self-propelled motorized chassis of motor homes, and mopeds, and demonstrators or lease purchase vehicles with which a warranty was issued.

How to Know If Your Car is a Lemon

Consumers have to follow certain procedures in order to have their vehicle qualify for protection under the Virginia Lemon Law.

As noted in the Commonwealth of Virginia, Virginia Department of Motor Vehicles site, your vehicle may be classified as a lemon under the Virginia Motor Vehicle Warranty Enforcement Act if:

  • You have tried without success to have your new vehicle (that was purchased in the state of Virginia) repaired three or more times for the same problem covered under the manufacturer’s warranty, or
  • The defect is a serious safety defect and has been subject to repair one or more times by the manufacturer or its authorized agent, the dealer, and the problem continues to exist, or
  • The defect significantly impairs the use, market value or safety of your vehicle, or
  • Your vehicle has been out of service for repairs for more than 30 days in one year

Vehicles will not be classified as lemons if an alleged conformity or defect does not significantly impair the use, market value or safety of the motor vehicle or if the nonconformity or defect is the result of abuse, neglect or unauthorized alteration of the motor vehicle by the consumer.

What to Do If You Think Your Car Qualifies as a Lemon

If you think your vehicle is a lemon that qualifies for protection under the Virginia Motor Vehicle Warranty Enforcement Act, you should contact the Virginia Office of Consumer Affairs before you file a claim under the Act. Be advised that all claims must be filed within 18 months following the date you first took delivery of the vehicle.

Contact the Office of Consumer Affairs, Virginia Department of Agriculture and Consumer Services, at 1-800-552-9963 or (804) 786-2042.

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