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Lemon laws: These states do the best job protecting consumers in new car purchases

Lemon laws have existed at the state level dozens of years to protect consumers from buying a new vehicle that turns out to be a dud.

But not all states treat or enforce lemon laws the same way. A new ranking aims to quantify which states do a good job protecting consumers and which don’t.

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New Jersey, Washington, Rhode Island among the best for lemon laws

The Center for Auto Safety (CAS) is out with the first update to its ranking of state lemon laws in nearly a decade.

New Jersey and Washington are the states in the Union with the single-best lemon laws, while Illinois is on the other end of the spectrum with the very worst lemon law in the United States.

The CAS gave each state a letter grade from A to F and looked specifically at 10 factors to establish its new rankings. Among the factors considered were:

  • How many repair attempts are required
  • The amount of time lost while the dealer has the vehicle
  • Whether arbitration is state-run
  • Is there is a penalty against manufacturers for willful violation of the lemon law?
  • Are attorney fees covered by the statute if the vehicle is found to be a lemon?

But before we get to the full rankings, let’s take a step back…

What exactly are lemon laws?

In case you’re not familiar with the term:

“Lemon laws are state-level consumer protection statutes that allow consumers to receive a full refund or a replacement vehicle if their new car has a defect that cannot be fixed after a specified number of repair attempts,” the CAS writes.

What exactly makes a new vehicle a lemon?

There are two related definitions that are give a new vehicle lemon status, according to the The New York Times.

The first is if a new vehicle “has a single, serious defect impairing its safety, use or value.”

The second is if your new vehicle is at the dealership for 30 days or more because “it had a series of problems and could not be used for a long period.”

If a vehicle is deemed a lemon, the automaker must buy it back. In states with weak lemon laws, the manufacturer may try to play games and hit the owner with a prorated fee for the miles already driven, according to the newspaper.

So without further ado, let’s get to the states with the strongest lemon laws in the nation…

States with the strongest lemon laws for consumers

State Letter grade
New Jersey A
Washington A
Rhode Island B+
Hawaii B+
Ohio B+
New York B+
Maine B
Florida B
Texas B
District of Columbia B
Idaho B
California B
Georgia B
West Virginia B
Massachusetts B
Minnesota B
Iowa B-
New Hampshire B-
Virginia B-
Connecticut B-
Wisconsin B-
Arkansas B-
Maryland C
Vermont C
Delaware C

Can't find your state on the tally above? You can see the rest of the list here.

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