The lemon law in Georgia dictates that any vehicle with a serious operational defect or any defect covered under the vehicle’s warranty must be repaired to acceptable condition within a “reasonable number of attempts” by the manufacturer or dealer.
If it is not possible to repair the vehicle, the dealer must replace the vehicle with an identical vehicle or must buy the vehicle back.
Georgia Lemon Law Rules for New Cars
Georgia’s lemon law is geared toward new (or newer) vehicles with valid manufacturer warranties still attached.
This means it applies to all new vehicles sold at car lots.
Lemon Law Requirements for New Vehicles
The lemon law applies in Georgia if:
- Your vehicle is still under the original manufacturer’s warranty and the issue you are having with the vehicle is covered by that warranty.
- The issue you are having with the vehicle “substantially impairs” the use, value, or safety of the vehicle.
- The vehicle came with the issue. (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 Georgia, 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 the buyer
- Buy back the car for a refund (minus a charge for time used prior to the 1st repair attempt)
Repair the car within a reasonable number of attempts
What constitutes a reasonable number of attempts to repair a vehicle in Georgia is four (4), three attempts and one “final attempt.”
The exception to this is if the issue with the vehicle is a serious safety hazard which could lead to death or serious injury, in which case the number of repair attempts drops to two (2), one attempt and one “final attempt.”
If the dealer/manufacturer cannot repair the vehicle after four attempts (two in the instance of a serious operational/safety issue), it 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 Georgia is 30.
If a vehicle is in the shop for more than 30 days for the same issue within the lemon law time frame, the dealer/manufacturer must allow you to return the vehicle for an identical (or like) 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 issue counts toward your 30 days, even if they are months apart.
Replace the car with a “substantially identical” vehicle
If the dealer/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.) and acceptable to you.
The dealer must pay any additional taxes and fees associated with the exchange, but may deduct an amount for the time you used the vehicle up until the first repair attempt.
This fee is calculated by a standard formula.
Accept a return of 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 all taxes, fees and interest paid on the loan), minus a usage fee.
This usage fee is for any miles put on the car up until the first repair attempt and is calculated by a standard formula.
Georgia Lemon Law Rules for Used Cars
Any car still owned by the original buyer is subject to Georgia’s lemon law.
Georgia’s lemon law does not apply to pre-owned vehicles, even if they are still under the original manufacturer’s warranty or within the lemon law time period.
Vehicles must be titled to the original owner to be eligible.
This means the Georgia lemon law never applies to used vehicles.
Georgia Lemon Law Time Limit
The time limit in Georgia for filing a lemon law claim is 36 months (3 years) after the date of purchase.
This is 24 months after the date of purchase (during which the lemon law actually applies), plus a one-year grace period for filing the claim.
This assumes you have not reached the other limits for filing a lemon law claim in the state.
Along with the 24-month (plus one year) time frame, you must file a lemon law claim in Georgia:
- Within one year of hitting 24,000 miles on the vehicle
- Within one year of the end date of the vehicle’s full warranty (if it’s a warranty claim)
Basically, the lemon law is in effect in Georgia for:
- 24 months after purchase
- 24,000 miles after purchase
- To the end of the warranty period (if it’s something covered by the warranty)
Whichever comes first.
And you have a one year (12 month) grace period following that to file the claim.
How do I file a lemon law claim in Georgia?
Before filing a lemon law claim in Georgia, you must contact the manufacturer of the vehicle to try to get the issue resolved.
After three repair attempts by dealer-authorized repair shops, you must send a certified letter to the vehicle manufacturer informing them of their final attempt at repair.
The details you are required to include in this letter are listed on the How Do I Start the Lemon Law Process? page of the Georgia Consumer Protection Division. (You can also find a standard form there.)
A copy of this letter or form should also be sent to the Consumer Protection Division as a means of initiating your potential lemon law claim.
Once in receipt of your letter, the manufacturer has seven (7) days to respond with a “reasonably accessible” repair facility for the final repair attempt.
If the facility fails to repair the vehicle to an acceptable standard or the manufacturer fails to provide a facility within the seven days, you can request a vehicle replacement or refund from the manufacturer.
If the manufacturer refuses or fails to respond, you may file for arbitration with the state (this must be done within one year after the lemon law period expires).
The Lemon Law Complaint Form can be filled out online and it’s free to file.
Once you file, the Consumer Protection Division will inform you of your eligibility for the claim and send you further instructions on the arbitration process.
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 Georgia, the lemon law applies to leased vehicles that are new and under a manufacturer’s warranty.
Chucking A Lemon In Georgia
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 Georgia, 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.