Often, people assume it would be a significant hassle and expense to fight a vast auto manufacturer over a defective new car. But that’s precisely why lemon laws were introduced.
If your new vehicle meets state lemon law requirements, you may be eligible for a replacement or refund.
State lemon laws and the federal Magnuson-Moss Warranty Act are designed to give consumers remedies that exceed the scope of a manufacturer’s express or implied warranties. A warranty might obligate the manufacturer to make repairs within a specified time or trigger a buyback provision in certain circumstances, but lemon laws go beyond this. They also address situations where a manufacturer might knowingly sell a defective car or truck.
If you believe your car or truck is a lemon, it is essential to report the problem to the manufacturer as soon as possible. Reviewing your owner’s manual or looking at the warranty booklet, you can find the manufacturer’s contact information. It is also helpful to keep meticulous records of all repair attempts, copies of receipts and invoices, and logs of phone calls with the dealer or manufacturer.
Most states require that you give the manufacturer reasonable opportunities to repair your vehicle before filing a lemon law claim. In addition, the defect must be a severe safety hazard or significantly impair the value of your vehicle. In some cases, a significant impairment in value can result from several more minor defects that add up over time.
After you have given the manufacturer a reasonable number of repair attempts, your attorney can help you file for arbitration. The decision issued by the arbitrator will determine whether your case meets the requirements for protection under what is lemon law protects and, if it does, how much compensation you should receive.
Lemon laws require manufacturers (and distributors and sellers, sometimes) to fix a defective car or truck within a reasonable time. Depending on the state law and what is included in your warranty, this may include repairing or replacing parts and even covering rental expenses.
If a manufacturer cannot fix a vehicle after a reasonable number of repair attempts, the consumer has the right to receive a refund or replacement. However, this can be complicated, and having an experienced lemon law attorney to assist you can be highly beneficial.
Some states have programs where you can apply for arbitration. Before doing this, however, you must report your ongoing problems to the manufacturer. Check your owner’s manual/warranty booklet for the appropriate contact information. You will likely have to write and send a letter by certified or registered mail. Keeping a copy of this letter and the postal receipt for potential inclusion in your lemon law case is essential.
Once your application for arbitration is accepted, an arbitrator will review the evidence and decide how to proceed. If the arbitrator decides you are eligible for relief, they will issue a written decision stating what compensation you are entitled to receive.
Under the lemon law and the federal Magnuson-Moss Warranty Act, if you buy or lease a vehicle that is defective in a way that can’t be repaired after a reasonable number of repair attempts, the manufacturer must provide compensation to you. This could include a refund, a replacement, or cash compensation. Detailed maintenance records can make a difference in your lemon law case, so it is essential to keep good ones. A qualified attorney can assist in collecting the necessary documents for a lemon law claim.
Generally, to qualify as a lemon under state and federal laws, you must have purchased or leased a defective product covered by the manufacturer’s original factory warranty. This includes vehicles, manufactured homes, motorcycles, boats, and consumer appliances. You must also report the problem to the manufacturer or its dealer within a specific period after discovering it.
If you win your lemon law claim, the manufacturer must repurchase or replace the vehicle with one of the same model year, value, and mileage as the defective item. If you opt for a repurchase, the manufacturer must pay your original purchase price plus any trade-in allowances or license and registration fees.
Most states require that you participate in the manufacturer’s program before you sue in court for a refund or replacement. Taking these steps first is often less stressful than a lawsuit and can save you money in legal fees. A lemon law attorney can assist with meeting requirements for a refund or replacement.
The lemon law is a mechanism for consumers to get compensation when buying a defective car or other consumer product. It relies on both express and implied warranties. An express warranty is a promise made by a manufacturer or distributor, while an implied warranty is based on common law or statute. Both types of warranties require sellers to correct defects in their products or to replace them if they are defective.
The first step in a lemon law case is noticing the defect. Then, you must bring the vehicle to the manufacturer or an authorized dealer for repair. Most states require that you give the manufacturer a reasonable number of repair attempts before the vehicle is considered a lemon. An experienced attorney will ensure you have documented the number of repairs and provide the manufacturer with a fair chance to fix the vehicle before you file a lemon law claim.
Most states have an out-of-court dispute resolution program if you cannot resolve your car problem with the manufacturer through negotiation.