Lemon Laws in Wisconsin

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Wisconsin’s lemon laws apply to new cars, trucks, motorcycles, or motorhomes that were purchased or leased in Wisconsin within the first year of ownership or while still under warranty. A car is considered to be a lemon in Wisconsin if it has a "nonconformity," or a problem that harms the vehicle’s value, safety, or use.
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What is a lemon law?

Lemon laws are federal and state laws that protect consumers who have purchased faulty items—especially defective vehicles. Lemon laws vary from state to state, but they’re in place to help compensate consumers for vehicles that don’t meet basic quality and performance standards.

Is there a lemon law in Wisconsin?

Yes, Wisconsin’s lemon law applies to new cars, trucks, motorcycles, or motorhomes bought or leased in Wisconsin. The defect must develop within the first year of ownership or while the vehicle is still under warranty.
Mopeds, semitrailers, or trailers that are designed to be carried by trucks are not covered under Wisconsin’s lemon law.
Key Takeaway Your car may be covered by Wisconsin’s lemon law if it is new and a serious issue develops within the first year of ownership while the warranty is still valid.

Is my defect covered under the lemon law?

A car is considered a lemon under Wisconsin law if it has a "nonconformity" that develops during its first year of ownership and within the warranty. Nonconformity refers to an issue that harms the vehicle’s value, safety, or use.
The issue with the car needs to be on the serious side. Something like an irritating rattling sound might not be enough to qualify your car as a lemon.
If any damage to your car is due to neglect or abuse on your part, it won’t be covered by Wisconsin’s lemon law.

Are used cars covered under the lemon law?

No, used cars are not covered under Wisconsin’s lemon law—only new and leased vehicles qualify.

What about new cars?

Yes, Wisconsin’s lemon law covers new cars, trucks, motorcycles, and motorhomes that were bought or leased in Wisconsin.
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How to pursue your lemon law rights in Wisconsin

If you want to pursue your lemon law rights in Wisconsin, you’ll need to take your car in for repairs, fill out a Nonconformity Report, and pursue legal action if necessary.

Repairs and receipts

To be protected under Wisconsin’s lemon law, your car must have a nonconformity develop during its first year of ownership. It must also fall within the duration of the warranty.
If the dealer fails to fix the defect four times or if your car is out of service for 30 days (non-consecutive) due to the defects, your car is considered a lemon and you may receive a refund or a replacement car.
In this case, out of service refers to the car being in possession of the manufacturer, lessor, or dealer due to the defect. If your car is in your possession but isn’t safe to drive after more than two visits to the dealer, it’s also considered out of service.
Be sure to keep all your receipts and invoices from attempted repairs, as you’ll probably need them if you decide to take your case to court.


If you’re interested in pursuing the lemon law, you must use the Wisconsin Department of Transportation's Motor Vehicle Lemon Law Notice and Nonconformity Report form to ask the manufacturer for a refund or replacement car. You get to choose the replacement car, but they might simply offer you a refund.
If the manufacturer isn’t cooperating with you, arbitration might be a good option to resolve the issue before it goes to court. It’s free and less time-consuming, which makes it an ideal starting point for you.
If arbitration doesn’t work out, you can file a lawsuit. It’s usually best to hire an attorney for this, as the laws are complex and any mistakes or missteps can impact the strength of your case. It’s helpful to have someone who knows how to navigate everything.
That said, it’s also possible to do everything perfectly and come out on the losing end of your case. There are no guarantees.
Key Takeaway If you have any issues with your new vehicle, take it in for repair as soon as possible. Keep all documentation related to the repair attempts in case you need to go to court.

Lemon law tips

Here are a few things to consider about lemon laws:
  • No matter what issues you experience, your car doesn’t qualify as a lemon if you’ve made unauthorized modifications to it or if it was damaged due to neglect, abuse, or misuse
  • Only take your car to an authorized manufacturer or dealership for repairs (and hang onto all of your documents)
  • Every time you take your car into the dealership, use the same wording to explain the problem—most lemon laws only apply to one problem that needs to be fixed repeatedly, so your words are important
  • If the lemon law doesn’t apply to your case, look into the Federal Magnuson-Moss Warranty Act

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