Lemon laws

New vehicles | Used vehicles

New vehicles

When you purchase a new automobile, you may have the right to participate in an arbitration system with the manufacturer and, perhaps, have your car repurchased as a "lemon." The statutes providing for arbitration and repurchase of a lemon were written separately so your car may not qualify as a "lemon" but you may still be entitled to an arbitration hearing. These laws apply to the manufacturers and not to the dealers. New cars leased after July 15, 1998 will be covered under the New Car Lemon Law. Our full automobile arbitration fact sheet provides details of these laws and how to start the arbitration process. You can also review the full text of the lemon law and arbitration statutes; they are outlined in KRS Chapter 367, sections 840-846.

Informal dispute resolution system or arbitration

Kentucky requires manufacturers of new motor vehicles to provide purchasers of new motor vehicles with a cost-free informal dispute resolution system. The decision is binding on the manufacturer but not the consumer. You qualify if:

  • The motor vehicle has at least four (4) wheels and is used primarily for personal, family, or household purposes and has never been sold or transferred before.
  • The dispute occurred during the first two (2) years or 25,000 miles, whichever occurs first.
  • You are a Kentucky resident AND you purchased the car in Kentucky.

Note: Motor vehicles leased after July 15, 1998 are subject to the terms of this statute only under the New Car Lemon law; i.e., they are only covered for 12 months or 12,000 miles as explained below.

Arbitration Contact Information & Links

New car lemon law

In Kentucky, manufacturers are required to repurchase an automobile if it is determined to be a "lemon." You can file a suit in a circuit court but you must first go through the manufacturer's arbitration system. To qualify as a lemon:

  • The automobile must have been purchased new in Kentucky by a Kentucky resident and not have more than two (2) axles and cannot be a motorcycle, motor home, conversion van, or farm equipment. New automobiles leased after July 15, 1998 are also covered.
  • The consumer must report the failure to repair the non-conformity to the manufacturer within the first 12 months or 12,000 miles, whichever is first.
  • The problem must substantially impair the use, value, or safety of the automobile.
  • The automobile has been out of service for the same problem for a cumulative total of 30 days or more or the problem was not corrected within a reasonable number of attempts. Four (4) attempts to repair the same problems is presumed to be reasonable.

Role of the Attorney General

The Attorney General is charged with the responsibility to see that manufacturers set up and maintain arbitration systems which follow state guidelines and which are fair. This does not mean every result by an arbitrator will be the right result. Instead, the Attorney General reviews the overall system to make sure it is run properly.

Used vehicles

Odometer rollback | Consumer resources

Many consumers dread buying a car, especially a used car. Here are some typical questions your might have.

  1. Is the car in good mechanical condition?
    • Have the automobile inspected by a mechanic of your choice before buying it or signing any documents.
    • You can request information about the previous consumer owner of a used car if the information is reasonably available. If the dealer tells you the information is not available, you should consider looking at another car. If you do obtain the information, call the previous owner and ask about maintenance and any previous problems.
  2. What rights do I have if there is a problem after I buy the car?
    • Check the FTC Buyer's Guide which is required to be conspicuously posted. It will tell you whether the automobile is being sold "As Is". If there is a warranty, it will spell out specific details of the warranty. If sold "As Is", then you will not be able to get your money back or the auto repaired.
    • In some cases, there may be a manufacturers warranty still on the automobile (or a portion of it). Manufacturers will not honor the warranty, however, if they have reason to believe the odometer has been rolled back or the problem is due to a previous accident.
    • If you can prove very specific misrepresentations, you may have a claim for fraud or a private claim under KRS 367.220 for violation of the Consumer Protection Act. You might be able to revoke acceptance under the Uniform Commercial Code (KRS Chapter 355). You will need to consult a private attorney on these matters, however, as the Attorney General cannot represent individuals.
    • There is NO statutory right to cancel the sale, even if done immediately. Likewise, there is NO used car lemon law.
    • You can file a complaint with this office and with the Kentucky Motor Vehicle Commission in Frankfort. Neither agency, however, can represent you individually nor give you rights that you do not already have (e.g., buying a car "As Is" really means no warranties of any kind).
  3. What is a "program car?"
    By regulation of the Motor Vehicle Commission, a "program car" can be any one of a number of types of cars including a demonstrator, a previously leased vehicle, or even an automobile repurchased from someone else as a new car "lemon".

For more information

Look at our online guide to odometer rollbacks and previous consumer owner information. We also suggest you check out our Consumer Resource page for more information including statutes and links to other sites.

More about buying a used car.