How Do Vehicle Lemon Laws Work?

How Do Vehicle Lemon Laws Work?

All 50 states have some version of a lemon law that is designed to protect consumers who purchase a new car. As the laws vary from one jurisdiction to another it is hard to define exactly what protection is afforded to the consumer. In some states for example the law covers passenger vehicles only; in other states the law covers large trucks and RVs while in other states the law covers used cars.

Typically a vehicle lemon law states that the person who purchased a new car is entitled to a remedy in the event the vehicle:

* Is out of service for a given number of days, typically 30 days
* A number of repair attempts are made on the same problem and the fault remains; three or four attempts is normal

In some states the number of repair attempts is limited to only one or two if the defect is catastrophic such as brake failure.

What qualifies as a defect?

Once again, this varies from state to state. The majority of state lemon laws say that the defect must be one which “substantially impairs” the use, value or safety of the vehicle in question. This is where a great deal of contention sets in, many substantial defects is obvious; transmission or engine failure for example. Other defects are not so obvious; these could be a poor paint job, water leaks or excessive wind noise. There is no clear cut line in cases like this so most people will turn to a lawyer for assistance.

How do you claim?

The vehicle lemon law in most states require that the owner write a “last chance” letter to the manufacturer of the vehicle, notifying them that the car in question is likely a lemon. In the majority of cases this letter is sent directly to the manufacturer before the car qualifies outright, this gives the manufacturer the opportunity to fix it one last time.

If you have had the car in for repair three times and the defect keeps returning and then on the forth try it works, the car is not a lemon and you have no case. In most cases this will not happen, if the problem could have been fixed it would have been on one of the early attempts.

Once it has been established that the car is truly a lemon and meets all the criteria of the state lemon law then you are entitled to a replacement which is substantially identical or you can demand that the car be bought back by the manufacturer.

In many cases the owner and the manufacturer settle for a cash consideration, the manufacturer offers a reasonable settlement and the consumer drops the case. Visit our website for more information.

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