A Mechanic Working on a Used Car LemonWhile a handful of states have used car Lemon Laws, Virginia is not one of them. In Virginia, if the used car you purchased is still under the original manufacturer’s warranty and is less than 18 months old, you may be able to file a Lemon Law claim for mechanical or safety defects that cannot be repaired in a reasonable number of attempts. However, it is more common for used cars to be older than 18 months and to be past the limits of their warranty. If this is the case with the used car you have purchased and you find that it doesn’t run as promised, you may still be able to do something about it.

Federal Laws That May Help

When you buy a used car in good faith and find within a short period of time that something is wrong with it, you may be able to seek a remedy under one of the following federal laws:

  • The Uniform Commercial Code (UCC). Under the UCC, when you buy a used car, it automatically includes an implied warranty that the car is fit for transportation. However, an “as-is” sale usually overrides the implied warranty. Since most used cars are sold as-is, this code probably won’t help. However, the District of Columbia prohibits dealers from disclaiming the implied warranty, so the UCC can be effective there.

  • The Federal Trade Commission's Used Car Rule. The Federal Trade Commission (FTC) requires dealers who sell five or more cars per year to post a buyer’s guide in every car they sell. The guide must provide certain key pieces of information about the risks associated with buying a used car. If the used car you bought doesn’t include such information, you may have a claim if something goes wrong.

  • Magnuson-Moss Warranty Act. Also known as the federal lemon law, this law prohibits the dealer from disclaiming an implied warranty when a car is sold with an express written warranty. It also provides for the awarding of attorney fees in particular cases.

Getting your money back or trading a defective used car for a different car are not easy actions to take in Virginia. You can protect yourself from buying a defective used car by having a mechanic inspect it before you buy it and checking for repair records and possible damage by running a Vehicle Identification Number report. If you believe you have been treated unfairly by a used car dealer, tell us about it on the form on this page. We will get back to you soon to let you know if you have a viable claim.