Lemon Laws

Consumer Protections on New and Used Cars

Whether the car is new or used, know your rights before you buy.


General Auto Repairs Law

Work that is not completed in a workmanlike manner must be fixed for free.

You can request a written repair estimate. If the repairs will cost more than $10 above the estimate, the repair shop must obtain your agreement (this can be either verbal or written) to the new price before completing the repairs. You cannot be charged for any unauthorized work.
Repair shops cannot falsely represent certain repairs as necessary or desirable.

You have the right to keep the replaced auto parts of your car unless the car is covered by a warranty or rebuilding arrangement.

The New Car Lemon Law

Under the Massachusetts Lemon Law, new car buyers are protected against serious defects in their vehicle for either one year or 15,000 miles, whichever comes first. Before this period is over, the car dealer or the car manufacturer must fix any substantial defects that impair the vehicle’s use, market value, or safety for free. You must allow either three repair attempts for a substantial defect or fifteen business days for a combination of serious defects. If the required attempts are not successful and you allow another seven formal business days as a last chance for repair, but this is also unsuccessful, you are entitled to a refund or replacement.

Please note: The Lemon Law does not cover auto homes, vehicles used for business purposes, or vehicles designed primarily for off road use such as dirt bikes.

The Used Car Lemon Law
Under the Used Car Lemon Law, a consumer who buys a used car for over $ 699 is entitled to a warranty that covers all parts and labor for use or safety defects. The length of the warranty depends on the mileage on the odometer, or on the age of vehicle if the mileage is unknown:


Warranty Period

Less than 40,000 miles
90 days or 3,750 miles, whichever comes first

40,000 to 79,999 miles
60 days or 2,500 miles, whichever comes first

80,000 to 124,999 miles
30 days or 1,250 miles, whichever comes first

125,000 miles or over 
No express warranty











Age of Vehicle
Warranty Period

3 years old or less
90 days or 3,750 miles, whichever comes first

More than 3 and less than 6 years old
60 days or 2,500 miles, whichever comes first

More than 6 years old
30 days or 1,250 miles, whichever comes first







Dealers are required by law to provide consumers with a written warranty against defects that affect the car’s safety and which discloses any known defects. If the dealer does not provide an accurate or complete warranty, you are still entitled to warranty repairs but the warranty will not begin to expire until you receive a complete, accurate copy of the warranty.

In order to get a refund, you must give the car dealer three tries to repair the defect or the car must be out of service for 11 business days.

The Lemon Aid Law allows consumers to get a faster refund if the car fails inspection within a week of the purchase and if related repairs cost more than 10% of the purchase price. You must return the car to the seller within two weeks with a written repair estimate signed by the inspector stating why the car failed inspection.

Taking Legal Action
If the manufacturer refuses to offer a refund or replacement in accordance with the law, you can either take court action or apply to a state certified arbitration program. An arbitrator can order the manufacturer to award the consumer a refund or a replacement vehicle if he/she finds that the consumer has allowed a reasonable number of repair attempts and the defects in the car are substantial. Applications for free arbitrations are available from the Executive Office of Consumer Affairs at (888) 283-3757. Applications must be received by the arbitration firm within 18 months of the vehicle’s sale. If you decide to take court action, you may be entitled to collect double or triple damages in addition to attorney’s fees from the manufacturer.


Many car buyers who arrange financing through dealerships are subjected to hidden percentage points that are tacked onto their loan. This “dealer markup” can cost the customer thousands of dollars above the market price of their car. Lenders and dealers work together to complete the markup, causing the buyer to pay arbitrary fees that are hidden under the term ‘certified pre-owned vehicle’ or ‘certified use’ to justify price markups.

* Car Smart, Massachusetts Consumers’ Coalition.