The Texas Lemon Law

A "lemon" is a vehicle with one or more manufacturing flaws that compromise its safety, value, or use. If you believe your vehicle fits this description, don't despair. The good news is that "lemon laws" exist to protect consumers whose purchases turn sour. In addition to the federal lemon law, known as the Magnuson-Moss Warranty Act, states have lemon laws that assist vehicle owners in repurchasing, replacing, or repairing defective vehicles.

Lemon Law in Texas

The Texas Lemon Law is a statute governed by the Texas Department of Motor Vehicles intended to protect vehicle owners from being burdened by a depreciating vehicle requiring ongoing manufacturer's warranty repairs. The state lemon law in Texas, on the other hand, requires a warranty and does not cover issues relating to the purchase of the vehicle or illegal sales and representations. Given the many differences in state laws across the country, it is critical to remember that Texas Lemon Law only applies to vehicles purchased or registered in Texas.

"Lemon" in Texas State

A "lemon" is a vehicle that was manufactured with flaws. A vehicle must have a defect covered by the manufacturer's warranty to qualify as a lemon in Texas. Furthermore, the defect must significantly reduce the car's value, usability, or safety. To be eligible for compensation under Texas Lemon Laws, you must report the defect on your vehicle while the warranty is still valid. You must also allow the dealer a reasonable number of attempts to correct the defect. Finally, you must notify the manufacturer in writing of the defect and give them one last chance to fix it. If none of these steps resolves the defect, the vehicle is considered a "lemon." If you believe you have a lemon, contact a Texas lemon law attorney immediately to pursue your options and protect your rights.


All of the following conditions must be met by the consumer:
  • The defect or condition either creates a serious safety hazard (a life-threatening malfunction or nonconformity that significantly impairs a person's ability to control or operate a motor vehicle or creates a risk of fire or explosion) OR significantly impairs the vehicle's use or market value.
  • The serious flaw or abnormal condition is not the result of abuse, neglect, or unauthorized vehicle modifications or alterations.
  • A manufacturer's written warranty covers the defect or condition.
  • A reasonable number of attempts to repair the defect or condition have been granted to the dealer.
The consumer must also report the defect or condition to the dealer or manufacturer in writing within the warranty period.

Coverage Of Lemon Law


The law applies to new vehicles purchased from a Texas dealer or lease company that develops problems covered by a written warranty from the manufacturer. Specifically:
  • Cars
  • Trucks
  • Vans
  • Motorcycles
  • Motor homes
  • Towable recreational vehicles
  • All-terrain vehicles
  • Neighborhood electric vehicles
  • Demonstrator vehicles that have been previously titled.

Vehicle Owner

The Texas lemon law protects vehicle owners who are one of the following:
  • A retail purchaser of a motor vehicle from a Texas dealer;
  • A lessor or lessee (other than a sublessee) who bought or leased a car from a Texas dealer or lessor;
  • A person who is a Texas resident and has registered the vehicle in Texas.
  • An active member of the United States armed forces who purchased or leased the vehicle at retail and is stationed in Texas at the time of the claim; or
  • A retail purchaser, lessor, or lessee's transferee or assignee, as long as the transferee or assignee is a Texas resident and has registered the vehicle in Texas.

What To Do?

To protect customers from unexpected defects, Texas has its lemon law. The law applies to vehicles with a "lemon" defect within the first two years of ownership or the first 24,000 miles. A written warranty from the manufacturer must cover eligible vehicles. Owners of defective vehicles in Texas must give the vehicle's manufacturer a reasonable opportunity to repair the defect before applying for reimbursement or replacement under the Lemon Law. This is referred to as the Four Times Test. If the defect is life-threatening or dangerous, you may only need to take it to the dealership twice to qualify under Texas' Lemon Law. Texans have a limited time to file a claim under the state's lemon law. A lemon law complaint must be filed within six months of the first occurrence of the following events:
  • The vehicle's warranty has expired.
  • 24 months after the purchase of the vehicle
  • 24,000 miles after the vehicle is delivered
Consumers must provide manufacturers with written notice to take action under Texas' lemon law. In addition, vehicle owners must pay a $35 filing fee with their application. The Texas Department of Motor Vehicles will investigate the consumer's claim. Consumers could seek a refund or replacement if the manufacturer deemed the vehicle a lemon. If the driver is dissatisfied with the department's decision, they can file an appeal or lawsuit.

Fixing The "Lemon"

It's simple to figure out how many chances a dealer has to fix a defect. See if you pass the four-times, serious-safety-hazard, or 30-days test. If you pass one of these tests, the law presumes you have given the manufacturer or authorized dealer a reasonable number of attempts to repair the defect. TRVs are generally exempt from mileage requirements.

Four-Times Test

A consumer meets the four-times test requirements if they take the vehicle to a dealer four times for the same defect within 24 months or 24,000 miles, whichever comes first. Regardless of these efforts, the flaw must still exist.

Serious-Safety-Hazard Test

If you took your car in for repairs twice within the first 24 months or 24,000 miles—whichever comes first—and the defect still exists, you pass the serious safety-hazard test. The hazard must be a potentially fatal vehicle malfunction that significantly impairs your ability to operate the vehicle safely. If the defect creates a significant risk of fire or explosion, the serious safety-hazard test is also met.

30-Days Test

If your vehicle is out of service for 30 days or more during the first 24 months or 24,000 miles due to a defect covered by the manufacturer's original warranty, the 30-day test is met. The 30-day period does not have to be consecutive, so a cumulative 30-day period of non-use is sufficient. However, if you were given a comparable loaner vehicle while your car was out of commission, you cannot apply this time to the 30-day test. Furthermore, despite the possibility of repairing the vehicle during the 30 days, the defect must still exist.

The Manufacturers Duty

The law gives you basic guidelines for what you might get if you prove your case. Because each situation is unique, judges consider the facts of each case before making a decision. If you win your case, the judge will impose one of the following sanctions:


  • The manufacturer must buy back the vehicle for the full purchase price, including taxes, title, and license fee, minus a fee for the use of the vehicle. The amount deducted is determined by a formula that considers the number of miles on the vehicle at the hearing, among other factors.


  • The manufacturer must replace the defective vehicle with one comparable to your original vehicle, usually the same make, model, and accessories, which you find acceptable, minus the mileage used.


  • The manufacturer is responsible for repairing the vehicle's flaws. Out-of-pocket costs for repairs that the warranty should have covered will also be reimbursed.

Reimbursement of Incidental Expenses

  • Incidental expenses are awarded if the vehicle is ordered to be repurchased or replaced. They include towing, rental cars, lodging, meals if the vehicle broke down while out of town, and phone calls and postage spent attempting to get the vehicle repaired.