The Connecticut lemon law dictates that a vehicle with a defect that “substantially impairs” its use, safety, or value must be repaired to satisfactory condition within a reasonable number of attempts or days.
If the manufacturer cannot repair the vehicle, they must replace the vehicle a comparable new car or buy back the vehicle for the original purchase price.
Connecticut Lemon Law Rules for New Cars
Connecticut’s main lemon law is specifically geared toward new vehicles.
This means it applies to all new vehicles sold at car lots.
Lemon Law Requirements for New Vehicles
The lemon law applies in Connecticut if:
- The issue(s) with the vehicle “substantially impairs” the vehicle’s use, safety, or value.
- The issue(s) with the vehicle is covered by the vehicle’s warranty.
- The issue(s) with the vehicle (and all repair attempts) occurs within the lemon law rights period.
- The vehicle came with the issue(s). (i.e. You didn’t drive it off the lot and immediately sideswipe a curb, jacking up the running board or suspension.)
If your car meets the definition of a “lemon” in Connecticut, the car dealership/manufacturer is required to do one of the following things:
- Repair the car within a reasonable number of attempts
- Repair the car within a reasonable number of days
- Replace the car with an identical or equivalent vehicle that is acceptable to you
- Accept a return of the vehicle for a full refund (minus a “reasonable allowance” for use)
Repair the car within a reasonable number of attempts
What constitutes a reasonable number of attempts to repair a vehicle in Connecticut is four (4), three attempts and one final attempt.
The exception to this is if the issue with the vehicle is likely to cause injury or death, which reduces the number of failed repair attempts to two (2), one attempt plus one final attempt.
If the dealer/manufacturer cannot repair the vehicle after four attempts (two in the case of a serious safety defect), the manufacturer must allow you to return the car for an identical (or comparable) vehicle or refund.
Repair the car within a reasonable number of days
What constitutes a reasonable number of days in Connecticut is 30.
If your vehicle is in the shop more than 30 days with any number of issues, it’s considered a lemon and the manufacturer must allow you to return the vehicle for a comparable vehicle or refund.
These 30 days do not have to be consecutive. Instead, they are cumulative.
Any time your car is in the shop within the lemon law period for the same defect counts toward your 30 days, even if they occur months apart.
Replace the car with a “substantially identical” vehicle
If the manufacturer cannot repair the vehicle within the allotted number of attempts or days, they must allow you to return it.
When you return the car, you may request a replacement vehicle.
This replacement vehicle must be similar enough to the original vehicle (same make, model, have the same features, etc.) or comparable enough (same price, etc.) and acceptable to you.
The manufacturer is responsible for any additional fees and taxes associated with the replacement.
Buy back the vehicle for a full refund
If you do not want a replacement vehicle after your first vehicle turns out to be a lemon, you may request a refund instead.
When refunding a lemon, dealers must refund the full buying price of the car (including taxes and fees), as well as any additional fees determined by the arbitrator (rental car fees, towing fees, etc.).
The arbitrator may, however, deduct a “reasonable allowance” for usage of the vehicle and assessed damage.
This is not required by law in Connecticut, but is instead determined on a case-by-case basis.
If an allowance is permitted to the manufacturer, it is calculated by a standard formula.
Connecticut Lemon Law Rules for Used Cars
All pre-owned vehicles less than seven (7) years old costing more than $3,000 in Connecticut are required to have warranties.
These warranties serve as a sort of lemon law for used vehicles.
For more on these warranties, see Connecticut Used Car Warranty Laws.
Connecticut Lemon Law Time Limit
The lemon law coverage period in Connecticut is 24 months (2 years) or 24,000 miles, whichever comes first.
All failed repair attempts must occur during this period.
Any lemon law claims and requests for arbitration through the manufacturer must also begin during this period.
Upon receipt of the decision by the arbitrator, you have only thirty (30) days to file any appeal through the court system.
How do I file a lemon law claim in Connecticut?
Before filing a lemon law claim in Connecticut, you may be required to contact the manufacturer about the defect with the vehicle and give them an attempt to repair it.
If this is the case, this will be spelled out in the warranty paperwork for your vehicle, along with the contact address and a list of information the manufacturer requires.
Upon receipt, the manufacturer must provide you with the name of a reasonably accessible repair facility for their final attempt at repair.
If they fail to repair the vehicle to satisfactory condition, and refuse a replacement or refund, you may next have to proceed with the manufacturer’s informal dispute settlement procedure (if they have one).
This too will be spelled out clearly in your vehicle’s paperwork.
If the manufacturer does not have an informal dispute settlement procedure, or you don’t hear back from them, you may file a Lemon Law complaint with the state.
If eligible, the state will provide arbitration on your lemon law claim.
There is one major difference between arbitration through a manufacturer’s informal process and arbitration through the state.
A decision by the manufacturer’s arbitrator is typically non-binding (you can still take the matter to court), while the state arbitrator’s decision is typically binding.
You may appeal it through the court within thirty (30) days of your notification, but the state arbitrator’s decision is almost always upheld.
General Lemon Law FAQ
To further your understanding of lemon laws, here are some frequently asked questions about how they pertain to vehicles.
What is a lemon law?
A lemon law is a law that protects consumers from defective products or “lemons,” generally by enforcement of a warranty.
What is a lemon car?
“Lemon car” meaning varies slightly from state to state, but, in general, if a new car has a defect the dealer or manufacturer cannot fix, that car is a lemon.
Defects in lemon cars typically affect the operation or safety of a vehicle, but not always.
Structural issues that affect that value of a car are also covered.
Is there a federal lemon law?
There is no federal lemon law specifically geared toward vehicles.
However, there is a federal warranty act called the Magnuson-Moss Warranty Act which protects consumers from false or misleading warranties and makes warranties easier to enforce.
Since cars sold by dealerships typically come with full warranties, the Magnuson-Moss Warranty Act applies to them.
This act serves as the basis for state-specific lemon laws.
What’s in the Magnuson-Moss Warranty Act (as it applies to vehicles)?
The Magnuson-Moss Warranty Act includes several key points that pertain to vehicle warranties.
These points are:
- No product is required to have a warranty (and many used cars don’t).
- The terms of a warranty must be fully disclosed in simple, understandable language.
- Any ambiguity in the language of a warranty is held against the warrantor (in this case, the manufacturer or dealer).
- Warrantors cannot require only branded parts be used with their products for a warranty to remain valid (Ford can’t require only Ford parts be used on your vehicle).
- Service contracts must follow these same rules.
Basically, if you feel like you’ve been duped by a warranty, you may have a case under the Magnuson-Moss Act.
And if your vehicle comes with a “full warranty”:
- A dealer/manufacturer must repair any defect for free within a reasonable amount of time/reasonable number of attempts
Or, if the dealer/manufacturer cannot repair the vehicle, they must:
- Replace the vehicle with an exact-match vehicle or allow you to return the vehicle for a full refund (including all taxes and fees)
Does the federal lemon law cover used cars?
If the used cars come with warranties, it does.
The Magnuson-Moss Act is not directed toward products themselves, but the warranties which cover them.
So, if you bought a used car that came with both a defect AND a warranty that covers that defect, the dealer must either repair your vehicle (in a satisfactory manner).
If they fail to do so, you can seek restitution under the Magnuson-Moss Act.
You may be able to come to an agreement with the dealer through arbitration, but, more likely, you will have to take the matter to court.
Does the lemon law apply to leased vehicles?
Yes. In Connecticut, the lemon law applies to leased vehicles that are new and under a manufacturer’s warranty.
Chucking A Lemon In Connecticut
When you buy a new car, whether you really need one or are just looking for an upgrade, there’s nothing worse than getting it home only to discover it’s a non-functional dud.
But manufacturers shouldn’t be shipping dud cars to dealerships and dealerships shouldn’t be putting dud cars out on their lots.
That’s the point of lemon laws, to ensure new vehicles driven off of car lots are safe, functional, and free from major defects.
So, if you think you’ve gotten a lemon car in Connecticut, you shouldn’t accept it and you shouldn’t delay.
You do have recourse, and the sooner you bring the issue to the dealer’s and manufacturer’s attention, the stronger your “lemon” claim will be.