Lemon Laws in Hawaii

The lemon law in Hawaii applies to vehicles for the extent of their warranty or for two years after purchase. Used cars are covered if they’re still warrantied.
Written by Tom Hindle
Reviewed by Kathleen Flear
The lemon law in Hawaii applies to vehicles for two years after their purchase, the extent of their warranty, or for 24,000 miles of usage—whichever comes first. Used cars are protected if they meet that criteria, too.
In the car world, lemons aren’t yellow fruit—the truth is far sourer. A lemon is a car that is sold with a severe defect or nonconformity that makes it dangerous or even unsafe to drive. But as a driver, you have certain rights if you inadvertently purchase one.
Figuring out you’ve bought a lemon isn’t fun. Lucky for you, the
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What is a lemon law?

A lemon is a car with a severe defect, usually making it unsafe, dangerous, or even undrivable. Manufacturers refer to those issues as "nonconformities."
Lemon laws
protect consumers that unknowingly purchase a lemon, entitling them to either reimbursement or replacement if they meet specific criteria.
The Magnuson-Moss Warranty Act offers lemon coverage at a national level, but each state has its own laws that you may have to look into first. Here’s how to navigate them in Hawaii.

Is there a lemon law in Hawaii?

Yes. The lemon law in Hawaii applies to cars, vans, and trucks under 10,000 pounds that were purchased or leased and registered in Hawaii and are used for personal, family, and business purposes.
Motorcycles and mopeds aren’t covered.

Is my defect covered under the lemon law?

It depends on how severe the problem is. If you believe you’ve been sold a car that’s unsafe, undrivable, or has a significantly reduced market value, you must notify the manufacturer in writing. This appeal must come within the first 2 years of ownership—but the sooner the better.
The specific nonconformity must be mentioned in the vehicle’s warranty (usually something serious such as total brake system failure).
Hawaii state laws compel manufacturers to respond to the letter by making up to three reasonable attempts to fix the problem.
Here’s the breakdown:
  • The same problem must be worked on a minimum of three times within the first two years or extent of the warranty period for the vehicle to be considered a lemon
  • For defects that are likely to cause severe injury or put the driver in mortal danger, only one repair attempt is permitted before it’s considered a lemon
  • If the vehicle is under repair for a cumulative 30 business days, it can also be considered a lemon
  • The law does not protect defects brought about by negligence or unauthorized modifications to the car
Key Takeaway If your car has a defect that substantially impacts its usability or safety, it’s considered a lemon.
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Are used cars covered under the lemon law?

Not officially. There are no special provisions for used cars in Hawaii’s lemon law. But if you acquire a car within its original warranty period, you can still appeal to the manufacturer for repairs.

What about new cars?

Yes. New cars are covered in Hawaii as long as they are within their original warranty period, less than 2 years old, or have less than 24,000 miles on the odometer. Note that motorcycles and mopeds aren’t covered.
MORE: How to refinance a car

How to pursue your lemon law rights in Hawaii

To claim your lemon law rights in Hawaii, you must first identify and report any nonconformities covered under the warranty. The manufacturer then has three reasonable attempts to fix the issue, or one if it's considered life-threatening. If the issue still isn’t fixed, you must request arbitration before you can make a legal appeal.

Report and repair

If you think your vehicle may be a lemon, you have to identify the defect and check that it is listed under the vehicle’s warranty as a severe problem. Assuming it qualifies, you have to report the issue to your manufacturer in writing so they can attempt to fix the issue.
As a consumer, you have to report the problem within two years of usage or 24,000 miles on the counter—but it’s unlikely you’ll be able to keep a broken car going for that long, anyway.
If all repair attempts fail, you must then enter the arbitration process.


Hawaii legally requires arbitration and considers it to be effectively the same as filing a lemon law claim. It’s held with attorneys at a government-designated building and can last up to 4 hours.
The arbitrator will then issue an answer to your claim within 45 days, at which point you can decide whether to accept or appeal the decision
If you don’t approve of the result of arbitration or feel as though you weren’t fairly compensated, you can file an appeal with the state of Hawaii—effectively the same as making a claim in court.
At this point, you’ll definitely need an attorney to help you figure out how to best assemble a legal case that would overturn the arbitration. To put forward the strongest case, you’ll want to have all your documents and invoices related to the purchasing of the car, as well as any repair attempts that have been made.
A lack of information might not ruin your appeal, but it could make your case weaker.
The unfortunate reality is that you might lose the appeal. But remember—lemon lawn processes rarely make it this far as arbitration smoothes out most issues.
Key Takeaway You have to go through arbitration before filing a claim, which is effectively an appeal of the decision.

Lemon law tips

Here are a few things to keep in mind about lemon laws in Hawaii:
  • You don’t qualify for protection if the defect results from
    unauthorized modifications
    or changes to your vehicle or poor vehicle car
  • Repair attempts have to be made officially by informing the manufacturer about the specific issue in writing.
  • Lemon laws apply to the repeated fixing of one single warranty-named defect—be sure your defect is named within the warranty and that you identify it clearly in your appeal
  • If you fail to come to an agreement with the manufacturer or lose your appeal, the Magnuson-Moss Warranty Act may offer you protection at the federal level
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