Lemon Laws in Virginia

Virginia’s lemon laws apply to defective cars, trucks, motorcycles, and mopeds that were purchased in the state within the last 18 months.
Written by Tom Hindle
Reviewed by Kathleen Flear
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lemon laws apply to new and used vehicles that were purchased within the last 18 months.
A lemon isn’t just a yellow fruit—in the car world, it refers to a vehicle with specific defects that negatively affect its use, safety, or market value.
Finding out that you purchased a lemon can be pretty sour. Luckily,
, has compiled everything you need to know about lemon laws in Virginia to make the claims process as easy as possible.
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What is a lemon law?

A "lemon" is a car with a significant problem that impairs its safety or usage.
Lemon laws
guard against the continuous use of such vehicles and offer owners the right to compensation or even replacement under specific parameters if they unknowingly purchase a faulty car.
While the lemon law is federal, the rules do vary from state to state.

Is there a lemon law in Virginia?

Yes, Virginia's lemon law applies to cars, trucks, motorcycles, or mopeds used substantially for personal tasks.
The vehicle must have been purchased in Virginia to qualify. This means that if you live out of state but purchased your car in Virginia, it might be covered.

Is my defect covered under the lemon law?

To be covered under Virginia’s lemon law, the vehicle must have problems that significantly affect its use, safety, or market value within the first 18 months after purchase.
Here’s the breakdown:
  • The car’s specific problem must have been worked on (or attempted to be fixed) at least 3 times
  • If the problem is considered life threatening, only one failed repair attempt is required for it to be regarded as a lemon
  • If a vehicle is out of commission for at least 30 days in a year, regardless of the severity of the issue, it’s a lemon under state law
The law applies only to cars, trucks, motorcycles, or mopeds.
If you have a lemon, you must notify the manufacturer through a written letter. The manufacturer has one last attempt to fix the defect, after which the lemon law process can begin.
Key Takeaway If your car has defects that significantly affect its use, market value, or safety, it may be considered a lemon.
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Are used cars covered under the lemon law?

Yes, used cars are covered under Virginia’s lemon law—but given the 18-month requirement, they rarely come under consideration. If your defective used car is less than 18 months old and has serious defects, you should begin the lemon law process to see if you qualify for compensation.

What about new cars?

New cars are covered under Virginia’s lemon law—in fact, new cars are typically easier to qualify for a claim.

How to pursue your lemon law rights in Virginia

If you want to pursue your lemon law rights in Virginia, you must report the issue and document any and all repair efforts, refer back to your vehicle warranty, and take legal action if necessary.

Report and repair

If you think your car might be a lemon, you must report it within 18 months of purchase. The dealer then has at least three attempts to repair the issue.
It’s important to keep a record of these repair attempts in case you need backup for your claim. Invoices should suffice.

Consider arbitration

Most manufacturers offer alternative ways to settle a dispute over a defective vehicle. Before you move forward with a lemon law claim, consider a more informal process.
Arbitration is usually quicker—and it’s free. If you can settle the matter this way, you might save yourself a lot of time and stress.
Lemon law claims are complex legal processes, so the smart move is to hire an attorney—especially if the manufacturer doesn’t provide a refund or replacement vehicle. Most states require that manufacturers reimburse legal fees for a successful claim process.
Remember, that manufacturers will have lawyers on their side, too.
The lemon law is a legal process, so it’s important to do everything by the book and as efficiently as possible—from having the right documentation to filing your letter correctly. Failing to do so might not disqualify your claim, but it can weaken your case and draw the process out.
The unfortunate reality is that sometimes it just won’t work out. Even if you do everything correctly and have a strong case, you might not be successful.
Key Takeaway Arbitration might be your first stop—but if you want to pursue your lemon law rights in Virginia you’ll need to keep records of everything and hire a lawyer to help you through the legal process.

Lemon law tips

Here are a few things to keep in mind about lemon laws in Virginia:
  • Lemon laws won’t apply if you’ve modified your vehicle or if the problem is a result of mistreatment or poor care of the vehicle
  • Repair attempts must be made with dealer-authorized manufacturers or dealerships, so check with your dealer about where you can get the vehicle looked at
  • Lemon laws only apply to the repeated fixing of the same problem, so keep your terminology consistent each time you bring your car in for repair—don’t change the narrative
  • If your claim is rejected or the law doesn’t apply, you have options—check whether the federal Magnuson–Moss Warranty Act (which has similar provisions to lemon laws) might apply
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