Lemon Laws in Massachusetts

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lemon laws apply to new cars less than a year old, as well as used cars with less than 125,000 miles of use.
Lemons are more than just fruit. In the car world, they refer to a vehicle with a severe defect making it unsafe or impossible to drive. Lemon laws are in place to help compensate owners for vehicles that fail to meet basic safety and performance standards.
Finding out you’ve bought a lemon isn’t fun. But there are steps you can take to recoup the money you’ve lost—or even get you a new car. The
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What is a lemon law?

A lemon is a car that’s sold with a serious defect, usually making it impossible to drive.
Lemon laws
protect vehicle owners by offering them compensation if they are sold a lemon.
Unfortunately, it’s not super simple. Lemon laws are complex legal processes that owners should understand when they purchase a vehicle.
These regulations change from state to state based on mileage, warranty period, and even number of repair attempts. That means it can be difficult to find out if you are entitled to compensation for your defective car.

Is there a lemon law in Massachusetts?

Yes, Massachusetts has a detailed lemon law that protects consumers. Unlike other states, it offers robust financial security for used car buyers.

Is my defect covered under the lemon law?

It depends on the vehicle. The standard law defines a lemon as a vehicle with at least one major safety defect that is not successfully fixed after three repair attempts.
Lemon laws apply to cars, vans, trucks, and motorcycles bought and
registered in Massachusetts
. Regulations differ between new and used cars. Cars purchased brand new are considered lemons if they have a serious defect that has not been fixed within a year of purchase of 15,000 miles of use.
Used cars are legally lemons if they cost at least $700 and have fewer than 125,000 miles on the odometer. Used motorcycles, mopeds, and off-road vehicles are not covered under lemon laws.
Here’s the breakdown:
  • A new car is considered a lemon if it’s within the first year or 15,000 miles and has at least one major safety defect that cannot be repaired after three reasonable attempts by an authorized dealership or manufacturer
  • The same applies for used cars, as long as they cost at least $700 and have less than 125,000 miles on the counter
  • A car is also a lemon if it fails a
    vehicle inspection
    within seven days of its sale, new or used—buyers can void or cancel the purchase as long as the defect is worth more than 10% of the price of the car
  • A "reasonable attempt" to fix a vehicle can be a bit of a vague term—but keeping any car at a repair shop for more than 15 business days is considered one
Key Takeaway: New cars less than a year old with serious defects may be considered lemons. For used cars, there must be less than 125,000 miles on the counter.
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Are used cars covered under the lemon law?

Yes, used cars are covered under the lemon law. In fact, Massachusetts has one of the more comprehensive used car lemon law coverages out there. As long as your
used vehicle purchase
has less than 125,000 miles, you’re good to go.
Private sales are also considered. If a used car has a defect that costs more than 10% of the car value, consumers can either void the sale or the seller can accept the cost of repairs.

What about new cars?

New cars are covered by Massachusetts lemon laws. It’s important to be aware of the technicalities before you buy.
Lemon laws apply to cars, vans, trucks, and motorcycles bought and registered in Massachusetts. Cars purchased brand new are considered lemons if they have a serious defect within a year of purchase of 15,000 miles of use that cannot be fixed.

How to pursue your lemon law rights in Massachusetts

To pursue your rights, you must go through all of the criteria, identify faults, pursue independent methods, and then, if necessary, take legal action.

Repair and report

If you think your car might be a lemon, you have to identify it as such within a year of purchase.
After you make at least three reasonable attempts to fix your vehicle, the manufacturer has one final chance of seven business days to eradicate the issue. If they fail to do so, you can pursue arbitration or file a claim.
Those four total attempts must be done within the first 18 months of purchase.


Legal claims can get messy and lemon laws can be particularly complex. Before you head down that path, consider solving the issue directly with the manufacturer through informal settlement proceedings.
It’s free and usually faster than going to court.
If you decide to file a claim, be sure to include all documentation related to the attempted repairs of your vehicle. It will strengthen your case.
You’ll also want to hire an attorney. Having someone who knows the ins and outs of lemon law cases is invaluable and will ensure you the best chance of success in your lawsuit. If you win, the manufacturer will likely have to pay your legal fees.
That said, even if you do everything right, you still might not win your case. Good lawyers are trained to combat these claims and a positive result isn’t guaranteed.
Key Takeaway: Make sure you have proof of your attempted repairs when you file a claim—and hire a lawyer, too.
MORE: How to find a good car repair shop

Lemon law tips

Here are a few things to keep in mind about lemon laws in Massachusetts:
  • Lemon laws can’t be claimed if an owner makes
    to their vehicle that result in a major defect
  • Repair attempts have to be conducted by dealership- or manufacturer-authorized mechanics
  • When you’re getting your vehicle looked at, be consistent with the wording of the problem—for a lemon law to apply, numerous repair attempts have to be made on the same defect
  • If you lose your case or if the law doesn’t apply, there are still options. Look into the federal Magnuson–Moss Warranty Act, which offers similar consumer protections

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