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What Is Lemon Law?
Lemon laws allow consumers to have a remedy when a recently-purchased vehicle or other product that fails to function properly. In order to achieve a remedy under lemon laws, there must be:
- Substantial Defect: The vehicle must have a substantial defect or problem covered by the warranty that occurred within the same time period of purchaser or number of miles after you bought the car.
- Reasonable Number of Repairs: You must have the dealer of manufacturer try to attempt to repair the car. The car would be considered a lemon if it remains unfixed after a reasonable number of repairs
- Defective before Purchase: The buyer must also prove that the defect existed before purchase.
What Is Substantial Defect Mean under Lemon Law?
A substantial defect under the lemon law is a defect or problem covered by the warranty that impairs the vehicle's use, value, or safety in such way that makes the car very dangerous or not drivable. This type of defect must not be a minor defect such as loose radio knob or something that can be fixed with minimal repair. The difference between a minor defect and a substantial defect is very different and each state has its own law regarding these issues.
What Does Reasonable Attempts to Repair Mean?
For your vehicle to be considered a "lemon" under the lemon laws you must allow the manufacturer or dealer to make reasonable number of repairs to attempt to fix the defect or problem. Before the dealer or manufacturer has attempted to fix the problem your car would not be considered a lemon.
- If the defect is a serious defect that concerns safety of the vehicle, the car would be considered a "lemon" if it remains unfixed after one repair attempt.
- If the defect does not concern a safety issue, the vehicle must remain unfixed after three or four reasonable attempts to repair to be considered a lemon
- If the car remains in the shop after a certain number of days to fix the defect (usually 30 days) it will be considered a "lemon" under most state laws
How Can Lemon Laws Help Me?
The lemon car protects purchasers from buying defective cars without notice. Each state has enacted its own lemon law regarding the problems of malfunctioning cars. The lemon laws cover vehicles purchased that have certain mileage after purchaser and other lemon laws only cover cars that have been sold only once. In addition to covering new car sales and leases, some states have lemon laws that cover used cars as well. Lemon laws will help prevent a purchaser of a car have to spend more money to repair and unrelaible and defective car than what the car is actually worth at the time of purchase.
What States Have Lemon Laws for Used Cars?
All states have enacted lemon laws, but many states don't have lemon laws for used cars. Because lemon laws can be very confusing and complex, it is not always clear whether or not a state's lemon laws applies to used cars. Fourteen states' lemon laws explicitly cover only new cars. These states are:
- North Carolina
What Is an Express Warranty under Lemon Law?
A used car will be protected by lemon laws if you get an express written warranty when you buy the used car. An express warranties are written warranties that are provided by dealers and manufacturers that tell the purchaser what is covered. If the dealer or manufacturer fails to provide what was warrantied, the dealer has breached the warranty and you may be able to return the vehicle and get your money back under the state's "lemon law". An express written warranty can be any of the following:
- The remainder of a manufacturer's warranty
- A separate warranty provided by the dealer
- An extended warranty or service contract that you purchase from the dealer
If you get any of these when you buy a used car, you car will essentially have the same protection as provided by new car lemon laws. Some states also have consumer protection laws that make it illegal to use deceptive practices when selling cars. If you bought a car based on a false representation, you may have a claim against the dealer. On top of this, some states require dealers to disclose certain facts about used cars, such as if it has been salvaged.
Other Things Covered by Lemon Laws
In addition to new (and in some states used) cars, lemon laws can cover other vehicles as well. For example, some states cover leased cars. Eight states cover leased cars. These are states are:
- New York
Some state lemon laws even cover motorcycles. The following states include motorcycles in their lemon laws:
- New Hampshire
- New Jersey
- New Mexico
- North Carolina
- Rhode island
Do I Need a Lawyer for a Lemon Car?
As you can see above lemon laws can become very complex and can cover a wide variety of vehicles. Lemon laws vary from state to state and it can be very difficult to resolve your lemon issue. A lawyer experienced in the lemon law can guide you through your state's laws and can bring a lawsuit on your behalf if necessary.
Consult a Lawyer - Present Your Case Now!
Last Modified: 03-09-2015 10:42 AM PDT
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