Mar 20 2020

How Does a Car Qualify For Lemon Law?

The origin of the term “lemon” actually comes from British culture. A lemon refers to any product of substandard quality. Early in the 20th century, Americans began using the term to describe anything worthless. By the 1960s, the term became common to refer to cars of little to no value. Today, there’s over 100,000 new cars manufactured every year that qualify as lemons. In this brief article, a vehicle lemon law attorney in Texas will discuss what qualifies as a lemon in the State of Texas. If you are wondering whether or not you own a lemon, reach out to the experienced lemon law lawyer at the Law Office of Darin Siefkes, PLLC. 

A Common Problem With Lemons

One common misconception car owners have is whether or not they truly own a lemon by law or just a faulty car. With the popularity of the term lemon, you may think that your car’s defective radio or broken AC unit makes it a lemon. Although these are extremely annoying inconveniences, they don’t render your car inoperable. Similarly, a rattling noise coming from under the hood or squeaky brakes are concerning, but they do not guarantee that you will qualify under Texas Lemon Law. 

To qualify for a lemon law claim in Texas, your car must have a substantial defect covered under warranty. Furthermore, you must have made several attempts to have this issue fixed at a reputable dealership. There are a variety of additional requirements that a vehicle lemon law lawyer in Texas can fill you in on, including what’s considered a reasonable number of attempts to fix the car or what exactly is covered under warranty. However, the condition of a car is one of the primary elements for determining whether or not it qualifies as a lemon. If your car isn’t legally considered to have a substantial defect, it won’t qualify. 

What is a Substantial Defect?

Substantial defects are covered under Texas Lemon Law. Under the legal definition, substantial defects relate to the drivability, value, and safety of the vehicle. Let’s look at each of these elements a bit more closely:


The drivability of the car refers to whether or not the vehicle is able to be used. In other words, if the owner can’t operate or control the car, the car is considered to have a substantial defect. Here are some common examples of a car that lacks drivability: 

  • Doesn’t turn over or turns over but doesn’t start
  • Starts and abruptly dies 
  • Shuts off when coming to a stop
  • Hesitates when you accelerate
  • Lacks power on acceleration
  • Misfires or backfires under load


A substantial defect is a serious safety issue for the driver (and other motorists). Simply feeling uneasy while operating your vehicle isn’t enough to qualify. When a car is truly a lemon, it contains a life-threatening defect that creates a tremendous amount of risk for the driver operating the vehicle. Moreover, if the defect results in the driver failing to have control of the vehicle, this is a legitimate safety issue. 


The value of the car is closely associated with both the drivability and safety of the vehicle. As an unsafe car with zero drivability is really just a lawn ornament, a substantial defect will dramatically impact the potential resale value of the car compared to a much smaller issue, like a faulty radio. If your vehicle is under warrant and has a substantial defect, a manufacturer may be obligated to refund you of all of the money you invested in the vehicle minus usage fees.   

Texas Lemon Law is highly complicated. As if the stress of investing in a lemon isn’t enough, learning about lemon law and navigating your way through a successful claim without the assistance of an experienced vehicle lemon law attorney in Texas presents many challenges. To learn more about Texas Lemon Law and your rights, partner with a lemon law firm today. 

If you would like to speak with an experienced vehicle lemon law lawyer in Texas about issues you’re having with your new car, please submit our free case evaluation form today.

Disclaimer: The information contained in this article is for general educational information only. This information does not constitute legal advice, is not intended to constitute legal advice, nor should it be relied upon as legal advice for your specific factual pattern or situation.