Lemon laws protect consumers who purchase defective automobiles. While there are federal lemon laws, each state has their own lemon laws as well. However, generally these laws deal with a manufacturer’s breach of warranty. If your car has substantial manufacturing defects that are cannot be easily repaired, you may be able to file a lawsuit under your state’s lemon laws.
If you think your car my be a lemon, the first step you should take is to determine which state and/or federal lemon laws apply to your situation. Next, you should determine if legal action is necessary. If you do file a lawsuit and win, a few different remedies will be available to you.
What Should my Next Steps be if I Suspect my Car is a Lemon?
While lemon laws vary from state to state, a car will usually be classified as a "lemon" if the car:
- Needed a certain number of repairs within a specified period of time or specified number of miles; and
- Has been "in the shop" for more than a certain number of days.
The number or repairs and time frames all depend on your state’s laws. The federal lemon law uses a "reasonableness" standard, which means that you must adequately attempt to repair your warrantied vehicle before it qualifies as a lemon.
Based on the above, if you suspect that your car is a lemon you should take the following action:
- Contacting the dealer who sold you the car to see if they will work with you to fix the problems you are having. You should also contact the manufacturer of the car if it is new;
- Consider legal action if the dealer or manufacturer requires to fix the problem; and/or
- Attempt settlement or arbitration (some states may require arbitration if you file suit).
What Remedies do Lemon Laws Provide?
If a consumer files a lawsuit against a car dealer or manufacturer and proves that their car is a lemon, the following remedies may be available:
- Refund the cost of the vehicle minus an amount of money for the car's use up to that point;
- Replace the car; and/or
- Pay for all the necessary repairs.
The remedies which are available to you should be outlined in your state’s lemon laws.
Do I Need to Contact an Attorney?
Since lemon laws can be complex and often frustrating to understand, it would be beneficial to hire a products and services attorney if you suspect your car as a lemon. An attorney would be able to explain the details of your state’s lemon laws. An attorney could also help you attempt a settlement and file a lawsuit on your behalf.