These states have the best lemon laws

Consumer protection laws are far from new, with the first being passed in 1906 under the name of the Wiley Pure Food and Drug Act. Since then, America’s marketplace shifted from a “buyer beware” attitude to one that tasks local and federal governments with protecting the consumer from harm.

Countless acts and laws have been passed since, with the Lemon Law in California being the first in a wave of new protections. Nearly all states have adopted versions of this law designed to protect and compensate consumers who purchased a vehicle with manufacturer defects. Some states, however, have better versions of this law than others. These are the states with the best Lemon Laws on the books.

Ranking Systems

A recent update from the Center for Auto Safety ranked the each state’s Lemon Laws, taking into account how effective they were over the course of a decade. The organization used the letter grading system, passing out grades from A to F like a school would.

Each state’s grade was dependent on ten factors, with five of those weighing heavier than the others. Repair attempts required before a claim, how much time a consumer lost while at the dealership, and whether attorney fees were covered were examined.

If manufacturers received a penalty for willful violations and whether arbitration was state-run also counted toward the final grade. When all was said and done, only two states walked away with an A. Many received Bs or Ds, with only seven receiving a C. Missouri, Louisiana, North Dakota, and Colorado all received an F.

Illinois came in with a final score of -3, making it the worst for Lemon Laws in the nation. The top three states are New Jersey, Washington, and Rhode Island. If you live in any of these states, here’s why you can rely on their Lemon Laws to get the compensation you deserve.

New Jersey

In this state bordering New York and Pennsylvania, the law takes lemons seriously. They offer the best time frame for issues and the most respectable number of repair attempts that a consumer must make before pursuing a claim.

New Jersey allows consumers to recover attorney or lawyer fees from the manufacturer, with damages also included. Willful violations are punished, as well. All in all, consumers are heavily protected with the state earning a total score of 84 from all ten combined categories.  


America’s Northwestern-most state came in at a close second with a score of 83. Their Lemon Laws are nearly identical to New Jersey’s, but feature incredibly crisp and clear wording about recovering attorney fees as well as damages during a claim.

Rhode IslandRhode Island came in third with a total score of 64.5, a notable drop from 83, but managed to dominate the scores from other states across the country. After 6th place, no one scored higher than 60. The state received a B+ for how its Lemon Laws protect consumer’s rights.