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Wisconsin Lemon Laws

Few sensations are quite as joyous and exciting as taking your new (or new to you) car out for a spin. Yet, all that happiness could be over when your new car starts having old car problems, especially after just a few spins. Having a broken down car is heartbreaking, but what you can do about it? Fortunately, the Badger State has regulations regarding new vehicles with the same unfixable problems. This is a quick introduction to “lemon laws” in Wisconsin.

State Lemon Laws

In auto lingo, a "lemon" is a new car that has a habitual defect that neither the dealer nor a repair shop is able to fix. Rather than sticking the consumer with a problematic or even inoperable vehicle, lemon laws offer some financial protections for car owners. Wisconsin’s lemon law statutes are like lemon laws in other states, and require the dealer to replace or refund a consumer if they are unable to repair a major problem within one year.

Lemon Laws in Wisconsin

The following chart highlights Wisconsin’s lemon law statute.

Code Section

218.0171

Title of Act

Not specified

Definition of Defects

Nonconformity to applicable express warranties which significantly affects the use, safety, or market value of vehicle

Time Limit for Manufacturer Repair

Term of warranty or 1 year after first delivery of motor vehicle to consumer, whichever is sooner

Remedies

Consumer's option: accept return and replace with comparable new vehicle and refund any collateral costs or accept return and refund full purchase price plus any sales tax, finance charge, amount paid by the consumer at point of sale, and collateral costs, less a reasonable allowance for use

State lemon laws can vary, but there are a few general lemon law guidelines you can reference if you’re trying to figure out if you’ve got a lemon on your hands:

  • The vehicle must have a substantial nonconformity that appears within a certain time after purchase;
  • The nonconformity must be covered by a warranty; and
  • The nonconformity must continue to exist, even after a reasonable number of attempted repairs.

Auto buyers should be aware that Wisconsin law only covers new vehicle purchases and leases. Therefore used cars may not be covered.

Related Resources for Lemon Laws

Realizing you might have spent your hard-earned money on a lemon can be tough. You can visit FindLaw's lemon law section for additional articles and resources on this topic. You can also consult with an experienced lemon law attorney in Wisconsin if you would like legal assistance with a possible lemon law matter.

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