Lemon Law in Wisconsin

Do you think you have a lemon car?

law lemon wisconsin
There are laws in the state of Wisconsin designed specifically to protect consumers from what may be considered "lemon cars", that is, a new car you buy or lease that is deemed unsafe or impractical to use.

How do I know if I have a lemon car?
How do you know if you really have a lemon car? Most people assume a car just driven off the lot that breaks down is a lemon, but legally this is not the case. Wisconsin identifies a lemon car as one with a serious defect that can't be repaired within four attempts (by the dealer) or one that keeps you from driving your car for 30 days or more (and the days don't have to be consecutive, one after the other).

Another key factor is that the car must be new (as in it cannot be previously owned), no more than a year old. Anything older than a year, whether never used or previously owned, is expected to have some sort of defect (either from having sat on the lot for so long or because of bad maintenance on the previous owner's part) and therefore are not protected under Wisconsin's Lemon Law.

There's also the matter of what kind of defect is covered under the Lemon Law. Wisconsin's Department of Transportation defines a defect as something that must "seriously affect the use, value or safety of your vehicle and must be covered by the warranty." So if your car is just making a weird noise but still works fine, that's not enough. It must actually cause your car to work in a manner that it's not supposed to.

Here's a basic checklist of how to determine if you've bought a lemon car:
  • It is a new (year or less) car, truck, motorcycle or motorhome you bought or leased.
  • Your vehicle has a serious defect that causes it to not function properly within a year after you bought it, and within the car's warranty.
  • The dealer has tried four times to fix it and failed OR
  • Your vehicle would not run for 30 days because of its defect(s).

So, do you have a lemon car? If so, learn what you can do about it.