Anyone who has ever purchased a new or used car has heard horror stories about unsuspecting customers being sold a “lemon.” If you have never heard the term before, count yourself lucky because that means that you have never had such a bad experience, but you should still know about it so that you can do what you can to avoid it. Imagine that you finally save enough money to use as a down payment for a new car that you have wanted for some time now. You go through all the hassles of filling out paperwork, answering questions, and waiting for everything to be approved. 

After a while, you are finally handed your keys to your brand new car and you drive out of the dealership with a big smile on your face. But something is not quite right; you might notice it right away or it might take a few days. It suddenly dawns on you that the suspension is not working exactly as it should, or perhaps the car does not accelerate the way that you would expect it to, or it could be something else altogether. You start to believe that you were sold a lemon, a term used to describe a car (often new but not always) that has considerable manufacturing defects that severely affect its safety or operation, making it a bad purchase. 

But did you actually buy a lemon? You might be completely convinced that you did, but that does not mean that the law will feel the same way about it. Because buying and selling “lemons” has been a problem throughout the years, “lemon laws” have been written in every state to deal with this issue. Of course, those laws differ from state to state and, as you would expect, some states tend to be more lenient than others. We have put together some general guidelines to help consumers who might find themselves in this situation, although the most advisable thing to do in such a case is to consult a lemon law attorney.

What Make a Car a Lemon?

According to the law in most states, a motor vehicle has to meet certain criteria in order to be considered a lemon.

  • The car must have a considerable defect that is covered by the car’s warranty and that defect must be present within a specified timeframe after the vehicle is purchased.
  • A reasonable number of attempts at repairing the particular defect that the car has must be made; exactly what that number is changes from state to state. If the defect remains after these repair attempts, the vehicle is most likely a lemon.

More About Considerable Defects

A considerable or substantial defect can be just about anything that seriously affects how the owner will be able to use the car, its market value, or how safe it is to drive. Of course, this defect must be present when the owner takes possession of the vehicle and not caused as a result of this person driving it. 

Most states will only consider the defect to be valid if it is covered by the warranty, so it cannot be something trivial that really does not affect the car’s operation, value, or safety. So, for example, if your steering wheel does not turn exactly as it should, it would not just make it difficult to drive the vehicle but also a possible danger that can end in a crash; this is clearly a substantial defect. But if your trunk does not close properly it can be easily fixed so that would not be a substantial defect. These are two clear examples, but what about problems that fall somewhere in between? You might think that a certain problem should be considered substantial but others might disagree. A lemon law attorney will be able to help you figure out if the defect that your car has can be considered substantial or not and advise you about the best way to proceed.

More About Repair Attempts

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One of the good things about buying a new car from a dealership is that they come with a warranty that should cover major defects. So when a consumer who thinks he might have a lemon notices a severe defect with the car, he or she should take it back to the dealership for repairs. Lemon law the dealership and/or the manufacturer with a reasonable number of repair attempts to fix the defect. If those repair attempts fail to resolve the issue, the car should be considered a lemon. When it comes to used cars, not every single state has lemon laws that protect the consumer, but some do; although to what extent and under what considerations vary so you have to talk to a lemon law attorney about it.

About Warranties

Manufacturers cannot create unfair warranties. Consumers are protected from this by the Magnuson-Moss Warranty Act which was enacted in 1975. This federal statute allows consumers to sue if the terms of a warranty that they received are grossly unfair, and it does extend to the car industry.

Refund or Replacement Car

When a motor vehicle has met the criteria for being considered a lemon, the dealership or the manufacturer should be willing to provide either a replacement car or a refund; this is a reasonable solution to the problem that any of us would expect. Unfortunately, we all know that companies can be stubborn about doing the right thing at times. If neither the dealership nor the manufacturer is willing to offer a refund, a replacement vehicle, or an acceptable settlement, it is definitely time to talk to an attorney about your case and what can be done about it.  

The Process of Going to Court

The Process of Going to Court

If you believe that you were sold a lemon, you can choose to go to out of court arbitration where an arbitrator or a panel will take a look at your case and make a decision about what should be done about it. You can either decide to accept that decision or appeal it. If you decide to follow this route, take as much evidence with you as you can such as photographs and written records of the repair attempts that were made on the car. A lot of people choose to go to arbitration in order to avoid having to go to court. However, consider the fact that a new car is not exactly cheap and if things go wrong in arbitration, you are going to end up losing quite a bit. The best thing that you can do is contact a lemon law attorney as soon as you can and with as much documentation about your case as possible. An experienced lemon law attorney will know exactly what he or she is doing and will be able to explain what your best option is to either get your money back or get satisfaction with an acceptable settlement. Click this link for more information about this topic.