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How Do Lemon Laws Protect Automobile Purchases?
Lemon laws protect consumers who purchase defective automobiles. When someone buys a car, it should be free from substantial manufacturing defects. If it has serious defects, which cannot be permanently repaired in a reasonable amount of time, then the car's manufacturer is obligated to replace or otherwise the person buying the car.
How Do I Know If My Car Is a Lemon?
Lemon laws vary from state to state, and in some instances the federal lemon law will be available. Some states have lemon laws only for new cars, while other states include used or leased cars. The federal lemon law will typically only offer remedies for warrantied vehicles. Generally, a lemon law will classify a car as a "lemon" if the car:
- Needed a certain number of repairs within a specified period of time or specified number of miles.
- Has been "in the shop" for more than a certain number of days.
The number of repair attempts, period of time, number of miles, and number of days are all specified by state law. The federal lemon law uses a "reasonableness" standard, where adequate repair attempts must be made to a warrantied vehicle before it qualifies as a lemon.
What If I Think My Car Is a Lemon?
The first step should be contacting the dealer who sold the car. If the car is new, then the the manufacturer should be contacted as well. Describe the problem as best as possible, and inquire as to what either intends to do. If the dealer or manufacturer is resistant or uncooperative, informing them that the lemon laws of state and potentially the federal lemon laws may apply can potentially change their tune, and they may offer to work out the problem right then and there.
The next step may be legal action. Some states require the parties to engage in arbitration, which can be complex and intimidating. In arbitration, all the parties sit down with a neutral mediator who tries to resolve the problem. In states where arbitration is not required, or the arbitrator's decision is not binding, the consumer can sue the dealer, manufacturer, or both. Going to court can be very difficult.
Remedies of Lemon Laws
If a consumer successfully shows that a car is a lemon, the dealer or manufacturer will have to do at least one of the following:
- Refund the cost of the vehicle minus an amount of money for the car's use up to that point
- Replace the car
- Pay for all the necessary repairs
State law will generally determine which of these options is available to the dealer or manufacturer.
Do I Need an Attorney to Help Me with My Lemon Law Problem?
Lemon laws can be complex and often frustrating to understand. Moreover, in the event of a disagreement between consumers and dealers or manufacturers, these situation can go from confusing to outright incomprehensible. Having an attorney help you with your lemon law problem can not only make life easier, but it can help secure a fair and equitable result is reached. An experienced lemon law attorney will know how to get the results you want, and bring a lawsuit on your behalf if needed.
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Last Modified: 07-08-2014 12:42 PM PDT
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