Summary of the Virginia Lemon Law:

Under the Virginia Lemon Law, a "Lemon" is a vehicle that has a problem that "significantly impairs the use, value or safety of the vehicle" to you. In addition, you must have given the dealership an opportunity to repair the significant problem (or problems), and the dealership has not been able to do so within a reasonable number of repair attempts.

Note: If it has been more than 18 months since the first owner purchased or leased the vehicle, then it does NOT fall under the Virginia Lemon Law. That being said, there may be other protections under the law. Please contact our firm for more information.

The Virginia Lemon Law in Greater Detail:

A vehicle (car, truck, motorcycle, or moped) used substantially for personal, household, or family purposes can be a "lemon" if it meets one of the following criteria within 18 months of the manufacturer's limited warranty going into effect with the first owner:

     1.   If the same "significant" problem is worked on 3 times (i.e. you have 3 repair orders), and the problem still exists after that—then it's a lemon.


     2.   If you have a sudden, life-threatening defect that affects the drive-ability of the vehicle, and it still exists after one repair attempt, then you have a lemon. 


     3.   If the vehicle has been in the shop 30 or more calender days for ANY significant problem or defect, and there is still something legitimately wrong with the car, then it's a lemon.

If the dealer has not fixed the problem(s), you must then notify the manufacturer about these problems IN WRITING.  (Do not notify the manufacturer by e-mail, fax, or by phone.) When notifying in writing, it is preferable to notify them by certified mail, so that you can prove the manufacturer received your letter.  Send a Certified/Return Receipt requested letter to the manufacturer.  Make a copy of your signed letter for your own records. (SEE Sample Letter to Put the Manufacturer on Notice). 

In your notice letter, please include the following pieces of information:

     1.   Identify your vehicle by its year, make, model, and VIN (Vehicle Identification Number).

     2.   List the dates you have taken it back to the dealership—and for what problems. State that you want the problems corrected once and for all.

     3.   Include a copy (you keep the originals) of each repair order.

     4.   Request a buyback under the Virginia Lemon Law if they are unable to fix the problems.

     5.   Keep a signed copy of your letter.

     6.   Send the letter Certified/Return Receipt.  The manufacturer has 15 days from their date of receipt to at least contact you to schedule a final repair. (Ideally, the final repair will begin during the 15 day period.)  The date will be stamped on the green card when you receive it back from the Post Office. 

If the manufacturer does not contact you to schedule a final repair within 15 days, wait out the 15 days and then call The Consumer Law Group, P.C. at 804-282-7900.  If the manufacturer contacts you, makes a final repair attempt. If the problem returns after the final repair attempts, then  call The Consumer Law Group at 804-282-7900.  If the manufacturer offers to buyback or to replace the vehicle, call The Consumer Law Group at 804-282-7900 to make sure the manufacturer is paying you what you are entitled under the Virginia Lemon Law.

     7.   Keep the green certified, return receipt card (where the recipient signed for the letter and dated it) and store it with a copy of your letter.

A Virginia Lemon Law lawsuit must be filed within 18 months of the warranty first going into effect with the first owner of the vehicle.  However, if you have filed for arbitration prior to this 18-month period expiring, then your deadline to file suit is extended by 12 months from the date of any decision made by the arbitrator. If you are unsure about any of this information, please call our firm.


Attorney John Gayle, Jr. of The Consumer Law Group, P.C. is the co-author of the Virginia Lemon Law. If you have additional questions regarding your potential Virginia Lemon Law case, please call our firm at 804-282-7900 and speak to someone on our intake team.

John Cole Gayle, Jr.
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Consumer Law Pioneer and Co-Author of Virginia's Lemon Law