Lemon Laws in Tennessee

Lemon laws in Tennessee apply to cars less than a year old. There are very few protections for used cars.
Written by Tom Hindle
Reviewed by Kathleen Flear
, lemon laws apply to new vehicles under five tons that were purchased within the last year and have a defect that substantially impacts the safety or usability of the vehicle. If you
buy a car in Tennessee
and find that it's defective, these laws can help you out.
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What is a lemon law?

A lemon is a car that’s sold with a significant mechanical problem that makes it unsafe or impossible to operate.
Lemon laws
typically help buyers secure a refund or replacement vehicle for their lemon.
Taking action under lemon laws is a complex legal process that owners should understand when they purchase a vehicle, new or used.
Details regarding how claims work change from state to state based on mileage, warranty period, and even the number of repair attempts. That means it can be difficult to find out if you’re entitled to compensation for your defective car.
Here’s a rundown of what you can expect from lemon laws in Tennessee.

Is there a lemon law in Tennessee?

Yes. There's a protective lemon law in Tennessee, and it’s especially useful for new car buyers. Used cars are usually not protected, as the law is only applicable within the vehicle’s original express warranty.

Is my defect covered under the lemon law?

As long as you own or lease a standard vehicle under 5 tons and the defect meets the required criteria, you can exercise your lemon law rights in Tennessee.
Tennessee defines defects as "nonconformities"—things that substantially impair the vehicle and render it undrivable or unsafe. Nonconformities also lower the market value of the vehicle in comparison to similar ones without defects.
Lemon laws force manufacturers to repair vehicles that do not conform to the original warranty. They get three "reasonable attempts" to fix the same problem before the buyer can take further action to demand a refund or replacement vehicle.
Lemon laws only apply within the first year of usage or for the agreed-upon warranty term—whichever comes first. Due to the relatively short window in which lemon laws apply, used cars are usually not protected.
The lemon law in Tennessee does not cover off-road vehicles or tractors.
Here’s the breakdown:
  • A new car is considered a lemon if it has a nonconformity that cannot be fixed after three or more reasonable attempts
  • Lemon law claims are seldom filed on used cars in Tennessee due to relatively short available claim periods
  • Drivers can also file claims if their vehicle is in service repair for more than 30 business days
Key Takeaway If your car has defects that significantly affect its use, market value, or safety, it may be considered a lemon—as long as it's a year old.

Are used cars covered under the lemon law?

Not usually. If you buy a car that’s 12 months past its original delivery date, you won’t be covered under the lemon law in Tennessee.

What about new cars?

New cars are covered under Tennessee law, as long as they are less than a year old or still within the express warranty period—whichever deadline comes first. The same applies if you lease your car.

How to pursue your lemon law rights in Tennessee

Report and repair

First, you need to go through the criteria to see if your vehicle is protected under lemon laws. The defect must present itself within the first 12 months of ownership or express warranty period to qualify.
You’ll also need to give the dealer at least three "reasonable attempts" to fix the recurring problem on your vehicle. If they can’t, the vehicle may be considered a lemon.

Consider arbitration

Before you start a complex legal process, there might be other ways you and the manufacturer can come to an agreement. Many disputes are settled through arbitration before lawyers get involved. It’s quicker and usually free.
If you can’t come to an agreement by arbitration, you should hire an attorney and take legal action. Be sure you have all your documentation to prove that repair attempts were made.
While the lemon law claim process can be complex, it’s important to ensure you do everything properly. Even a simple misstep can weaken your case and affect your ability to get compensation.
Of course, doing everything right doesn’t guarantee you a win, either. The manufacturer will have good lawyers to combat the lawsuit.
Key Takeaway Try to resolve the issue through arbitration first, but have all your documentation ready to go in case you need to take legal action.
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Lemon law tips

Here are a few things to keep in mind about lemon laws in Tennessee:
  • Lemon law claims can’t be made on significantly
    modified vehicles
    as the defects could be judged to be the user's fault
  • Repair attempts have to be conducted by authorized mechanics—trying to fix the car independently won’t stand as a "reasonable attempt"
  • When you’re getting your vehicle looked at, be very clear as to what the problem is—all reasonable attempts must address the same issue each time
  • If you lose your case, the federal Magnuson–Moss Warranty Act offers similar consumer protections and may apply

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