State Lemon Laws
If you are fortunate, you can purchase a brand new car. If your fortune takes a turn after you purchase the car and problems arise with the car, what can you do? Are you covered under the state lemon law? Can you just return the car? Will the dealer talk to you? What requirements must my car fit in to be called a “lemon”?
Do you have a lemon? You may not like something about the car, but that doesn’t qualify it as a lemon. Now, if the brakes don’t work or the car won’t go into gear or it won’t run over 30 mph, then you might have a lemon. But, you must give the manufacturer an opportunity to fix the problem. In most states, 10 different defects during the warranty period do not constitute that the car is a lemon. In some states, a single defect that might cause serious injury makes your car a lemon if the manufacturer cannot fix the problem within 1 attempt. First rule: Keep up with all of your receipts and repair history.
State laws vary, but a rule of thumb is if the car problem can’t be fixed with 4 tries or the car has been out of commission for more than 30 days during the first year or 12,000 miles.
Before you buy the car, you should have checked out the car’s repair history. Did you check the VIN number on some popular websites to see if the car was in an accident?
The manufacturer doesn’t have to replace or refund the car if the defects do not impair the use and value of the car or the condition of the car was due to customer’s abuse, neglect, or unauthorized alterations. Be careful, as you can get yourself into a pickle.
A lawyer that is familiar with state lemon laws can help you determine a variety of problems like whether the car was damaged at the time of delivery. Was there fraud or deception in your financing paperwork? Were repairs attempted beforehand to cover up defects? Lawyers go through an extreme investigation on your vehicle to make sure how these items affected your value, safety, or use.
The lawyer will submit a detailed account to the manufacturer, usually after hiring an ASE certified mechanic to go over the car. Did you know that the auto repair shops use several work orders? They have one for you to look at, but they also have one for the technician. If the problems are too hard to fix, they may be told not to fix the car. Your lawyer will drag all of this out in front of the manufacturer or judge, if necessary.
In summary, you understand now that if your paint is peeling, then you don’t have a lemon. If your brakes aren’t working and the dealer can’t fix them, then you may have a lemon.