Lemon Laws in Texas

Texas lemon laws protect drivers from buying defective or faulty vehicles by allowing them to pursue repairs, compensation, or a replacement vehicle.
Written by Jacqulyn Graber
Reviewed by Amy Bobinger
background
Texas
lemon laws protect vehicle owners from being sold faulty or defective vehicles. The state laws cover new motor vehicles under manufacturer warranty that were bought and registered in Texas. Used cars that are still under warranty are covered for repair only—not refund or replacement.
Texas lemon laws were designed to offer a faster and easier way to deal with lemon issues, as opposed to filing a lawsuit over a damaged vehicle. Still, the laws can be complicated, so it’s a good idea to consult a lawyer before pursuing a claim.
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What is a lemon law?

Lemon laws
work to protect consumers from losing money (or worse) due to repeated attempts to repair a defect or flaw with their car.
Under Texas lemon laws, the manufacturer or your dealer is entitled to a reasonable number of attempts to fix your car’s nagging problem. How ‘reasonable’ is defined in Texas will be detailed below.
If, after multiple attempts, the problem isn’t resolved—and depending on whether your car is new or used—you may be in a position to pursue compensation, a replacement vehicle from the manufacturer, or repairs in the case of a
used car still under warranty
.

What qualifies as a lemon car?

In Texas, a car’s safety, value, and use must be significantly impacted by a manufacturer's malfunction to be considered a lemon. The conditions are as follows:
  • Vehicle has a significant manufacturer’s defect or malfunction
  • Said defect is covered under your warranty
  • Within the warranty term, the defect must be reported to the manufacturer and/or dealer
  • The manufacturer or dealer must be allotted reasonable repair attempts to fix the problem
  • Car owner must give the manufacturer written notice of the issue (via certified mail) and at least one opportunity to fix it
  • The problem persists and impedes the car’s use or market value, or it’s a safety hazard
You can use the following tests to determine whether the manufacturer has been given reasonable attempts to fix the problem:
Four-time test
Your car has been brought in four times for the same issue within the first 24 months of ownership or the first 24,000 miles driven, whichever comes first.
Serious safety-hazard test
This is a serious safety issue that impedes the safe operation of the vehicle and threatens injury or death, or there is a risk of fire or explosion if not repaired. You "pass" this test if you’ve brought the vehicle in twice over the first 24 months of ownership or the first 24,000 miles driven and the issue persists.
30-day test
Your car has been out of service for 30 days (they don’t have to be consecutive) due to the persistent problem during the first 24 months of ownership or the first 24,000 miles driven, whichever comes first. Do note—if you’re using a comparable loaner car at any point during those 30 days, those days do not count.

Is there a Texas lemon law?

Yes, Texas does have a lemon law. It was enacted in 1983, but due to a court challenge, enforcement didn’t begin until 1985.
New cars bought and registered in Texas, with a written warranty, are covered under Texas lemon laws.
The laws apply to the following new vehicle categories:
  • Cars
  • Trucks
  • Vans
  • Motorcycles
  • ATVs
  • Motor homes
  • Towable recreational vehicles (TRVs)
In addition to individual state laws, there is also a federal lemon law. According to the Magnuson-Moss Warranty Act, consumers who purchase a good with a cost of $25 or more are protected, provided the item is not beyond the expiration of the express warranty term. 
State lemon laws usually constitute the best option for consumers with a defective vehicle if they qualify for relief under the statute. However, the Magnuson-Moss law offers consumers an alternative if they do not qualify for reimbursement of the purchase price, a replacement vehicle, or a settlement under the state lemon law.

Does the lemon law apply to used cars?

If your used vehicle is under warranty, you’re entitled to repairs under Texas lemon laws. You are not entitled to a refund or replacement like you would if you
bought a new car
using your own personal funds, or a
car loan
.
Repossessed vehicles, non-travel trailers, boats, and farm equipment are not covered.
MORE: How to avoid buying a lemon car

How to file a lemon law claim 

So long as you qualify, here’s how it goes if you want to pursue relief under Texas lemon laws:
  • File a lemon law complaint: Pay a $35 filing fee and
    file the complaint
    through the Texas Department of Motor Vehicles, along with a notice of the complaint and a final opportunity for the manufacturer to repair the defect.
  • Complaint review and mediation: After a Texas state employee reviews and approves the complaint, mediation will begin between both parties in an attempt to obtain a settlement.
  • A hearing, if necessary: If mediation fails to resolve the issue, your case goes to a hearing, where both sides will present their case.
  • Decision: The examiner will issue a ruling within 60 days from the end of the hearing.
  • Challenge, if necessary: If either party is unsatisfied with the examiner’s decision, a motion can be filed for a rehearing with the Texas DMV. If a party is still unsatisfied after a rehearing, an appeal can be filed with the state district court in Travis County, TX.
Keep in mind that lemon laws can be incredibly confusing to navigate, and your dealership will likely have an experienced lemon law attorney on retainer. 
It may serve you well to contact an appropriate law firm to assist you with your lemon law case. You’ll be responsible for attorney fees, but a qualified Texas lemon law attorney will increase your chances of an examiner ruling in your favor

How to find cheap car insurance 

Your car’s warranty, combined with Texas’ lemon laws, will protect you against significant vehicle defects. However, you’ll still need to
shop for a quality car insurance policy
to protect you against the threats of the open road.
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FAQs

Some states have a buyer’s remorse law that allows you to return a large purchase within three days—but Texas is not one of them. Thus, you generally can’t return a car you’ve just bought—unless it turns out to be a lemon or requires repeated repair orders beyond the warranty, or there is a loophole in the agreement or contract that nullifies the sale. 
Some dealerships may also provide a grace period for returns, so it is important to read your contract carefully before signing the dotted line. 
If your car stops working, the most important first step is to stay calm and collected. If you are out on the road, you’ll want to call for help and get yourself and your vehicle to a safe place as soon as possible.
If you are on the road or the shoulder of the road, using your hazard lights (or keeping your car door open if your hazard lights are not working) can help alert other vehicles to slow down.
Then, you’ll generally need to have your car towed to an auto shop for evaluation and repairs. If your vehicle is under warranty, you should have it towed to the dealership, as the necessary repairs may be covered. 
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