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We handle cases across the United States. Allen Stewart is licensed to practice law in Texas, California, New York, Pennsylvania, Missouri, North Carolina, Ohio and Arizona.

How to Identify a Lemon: Signs Your Car Might Qualify  

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There’s no way around it: purchasing a new vehicle is stressful. The internet is rife with articles about managing car buying anxiety. A 2014 survey conducted by found that many would rather do their taxes than buy a car. Consumers start out feeling anxious about finances, the need to haggle, or misinformation about the market value of a vehicle, but the stress doesn’t stop there. After you’ve made your purchase, documents have been signed, your “New Car” scented air freshener is hanging from the rearview mirror, nothing could go wrong, right?

You get home and are so excited about your new car that you tell yourself that the brakes being a little mushy is all in your head, that the bump you hit on way to your child’s softball game must have gotten deeper. Finally, you decide you’ll take the car into the dealership just in case. After the fourth “just in case”, you start to wonder: did I purchase a lemon? “A ‘lemon’ is a term for a car with a significant defect or malfunction that makes it unsafe to drive.” (

Each year, around 150,000 vehicles turn out to be lemons (some more than others). But thankfully, there’s some good news. There are also plenty of resources about Lemon Laws, state by state, and exact details about what to look for after you make your purchase. Staying informed allows you to act quickly on any issues that may arise.

Some common examples of problems that may qualify your vehicle as a lemon include: malfunctioning brakes, transmission failures, steering problems or a bad suspension. Other problems that could make your vehicle a lemon include less dangerous but still annoying issues such as unidentifiable noises, unpleasant odors or paint job mistakes.

The Lemon Law in Texas is administered by the Texas Department of Motor Vehicles and can be a less complicated and less expensive alternative to going to court.

The Texas Lemon Law can help a consumer get the vehicle repurchased, replaced, or repaired. It covers new vehicles, from cars and trucks to motorcycles, motor homes, and even towable recreation vehicles (TRVs), covered by a manufacturer’s written warranty. It doesn’t cover repossessed vehicles, boats, or farm equipment.

For more information on arbitration and other frequently asked lemon law questions, click here.

One important thing to note is that if the vehicle defect is proven caused by owner neglect or abuse, that defect is not covered. Likewise, if a part or component was added after-market and not manufacturer-approved, the issue with the vehicle is not covered. Finally, if the issue does not put the driver in danger or significantly detract from the market value of said vehicle, it is not covered.

The Texas Department of Motor Vehicles states a lemon vehicle must contain a “substantial manufacturing defect” covered by its written warranty that the owner reports to the dealer within the warranty protection term. The owner must give the manufacturer a “reasonable number of attempts to repair” the defect, with the number of “reasonable repairs” differing by the state. The owner must notify the manufacturer by certified mail and allow them at least one chance to fix the problem. The Texas DMV also says the problem must persist and “substantially impair the vehicle’s use or market values,” or present a serious safety hazard.

There are three tests to gauge your eligibility to be covered by Lemon Law: the four-times test, serious safety-hazard test, and the 30-day test.

If you’ve taken the vehicle to the dealership for repairs four times (for the same defect) within the first 24 months or 24,000 miles and the issue has not been fixed, the vehicle passes the four times test.

Think you have a lemon, click here to fill out a 30 second form.

If you’ve taken the vehicle to the dealership twice in the first 24 months or 24,000 miles for a life-threatening malfunction that hinders your ability to control the vehicle normally without the risk of fire or explosion, it passes the serious safety hazard test.

If your vehicle has been out of commission for 30 days or more (not necessarily consecutively) during the first 24 months or 24,000 miles, your vehicle passes the 30 days test and may be eligible for lemon law renumeration.

For the fastest processing, you’ll want to visit the Motor Vehicle Dealer Online Complaint System. You’ll pay a $35 filing fee and provide notice of the complaint to the manufacturer, along with the last opportunity to repair the defect.

The Texas DMV will review your claim and if determined eligible, they will attempt to resolve the claim through mediation, also known as “arbitration.” Arbitration is an informal legal process occuring outside the court between the consumer and a representative from the manufacturer.

If there is not a resolution at this point, you may be referred for a hearing where both parties would submit their case. The hearing examiner will make a final decision within 60 days and either party may challenge the final order by filing a motion with the Texas Department of Motor Vehicles. Lastly, if still dissatisfied, an appeal may be filed with a state district court in Travis County, Texas.

Lemon laws are confusing. Read our guide to the lemon law complaint process.

The filing deadline and other requirements are very specific but you can call the Texas Department of Motor Vehicles Lemon Law Section for more information or consult legal counsel.

It’s important to note that just because there’s a recall on a vehicle doesn’t necessarily make it a lemon. However, “if you car is recalled and the manufacturer can’t fix it within a given time or number of attempts, the car is a lemon.

The United States Department of Transportation is a great resource to stay on top of recalls, investigations, and complains (

Last but not least, taking care of your car won’t just leave your car in better shape, but will inform you about any issues as early as possible. The Texas Department of Motor Vehicles leaves us with some important tips: read your owner’s manual and follow instructions for servicing your vehicle, if you are in need of any warranty repairs, be sure they’re performed by an authorized dealer.

Allen Stewart P.C. has many attorneys with decades of experience fighting automotive manufacturers in court. If a manufacturer isn’t holding up their end of the warranty, Allen Stewart P.C. can help. The sooner you reach out the better your chances of a successful claim. Contact Allen Stewart P.C. today.

This information brought to you by Allen Stewart P.C.

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