Each state has a lemon law that protects consumers from the financial hardship that comes with the purchase of a faulty vehicle. While lemon vehicles are rare, they do exist, and can quickly become non-drivable, unsafe and sharply reduce the value of the vehicle. Most laws cover new vehicles, however, some states have regulations in place for the purchase of a faulty, used vehicle. A used car lemon law will generally provide a coverage period that is less than the standard law, but can still prevent the financial burden associated with a vehicle experiencing repeat mechanical failings.
It is recommended that you consider a lemon law attorney if you are experiencing a vehicle that may be defined as a lemon, especially if a manufacturer is giving you pushback regarding a refund or replacement vehicle, or if state laws require that you pursue a replacement or refund in a court setting.
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What is the Lemon Law?
A car lemon law protects car buyers from vehicles that are defective beyond repair. By lemon law definition, a vehicle is only considered a lemon if it has been proven to be defective beyond repair. Each state specifies the amount of times a vehicle must be serviced before the law will provide coverage, as well as additional requirements, such as whether or not the vehicle must be purchased new, the mileage requirements and the age of the vehicle. Generally, a vehicle may be considered a lemon depending on:
- The number of miles that have been driven. Unrepairable mechanical failings will generally happen within a certain number of months or miles.
- Whether or not the defect of the vehicle is considered substantial. Minor defects are not considered beneath lemon car law. In order for a vehicle to be considered a lemon, the mechanical failing must substantially impact the use, safety or value of the vehicle.
- The number of reasonable repair attempts that have been made. Under lemon laws, states may allow a vehicle manufacturer between one and five attempts, on average, with some states providing stricter laws for a mechanical failing that sharply affects the overall safety of the vehicle.
- The number of days that the vehicle is out of service. In addition to the allotted amount of times that a vehicle manufacturer can attempt to repair a mechanical failing, some states require that the vehicle not be out of service within a cumulative amount of days. While this limit is generally 30 days, it does vary by state.
A lemon law buyback occurs when a vehicle qualifies beneath the law, and the manufacturer has failed to repair the vehicle under the allotted amount of repair attempts or the amount of days the car is out of service. In the event that the manufacturer must buy the vehicle back from you, the state will generally allow you to choose between a refund and a replacement. In the case of lemon cars, most states will allow a deduction from your refund amount for the use of the vehicle, but you may also be eligible for a refund for vehicle registration, towing and car rental fees. Check your state legislation to determine the type of refund or replacement that for which you may be eligible, if your vehicle is deemed to be a lemon.
Does the Lemon Law apply to used cars?
Some states have a 30 day lemon law on used cars, but not all states provide any sort of legislation for used vehicles. Other states may provide protection for vehicles for a briefer or longer amount of time, or the law may depend on the mileage of the vehicle. A handful of states require that dealerships provide a brief warranty with the purchase of a used vehicle, if a vehicle meets certain eligibility requirements. However, it is worth knowing that most states do not provide protection to the purchase of vehicles. This is due to the fact that most lemon vehicles will display a mechanical failing early on in mileage or age.
In some cases, you may qualify for a federal lemon law called the Magnuson-Moss Warranty Act. This law is federally regulated, and provides a course of action to vehicles that possess repetitive failings, and do not live up to expected quality and performance. The law generally deals in vehicles that are covered by a warranty, however.
How does the Lemon Law work?
The new car lemon law generally requires you to report any mechanical failing to the vehicle’s manufacturer or dealership immediately following the problem. Failing to do so could result in risking your coverage beneath the law, and whether or not the manufacturer will be held responsible. It is important for you to review your own state laws, in order to determine the amount of times that your vehicle manufacturer is allowed to attempt to repair the vehicle before you can demand a refund or replacement.
As mentioned previously, used car laws may not be available in your state. If your state does provide protection for the purchase of a used vehicle, it will most likely not have the same eligibility requirements or length of time associated with which you are protected beneath the law.
Your state lemon law will determine the next course of action that you must take to gain a replacement or refund after the mechanical failing has repeatedly not been fixed. Some state laws or car contracts may require arbitration, while other states may require that the matter be settled in court, in a civil suit.
Lemon Law Lawyers
A lemon law attorney can be a powerful asset if you are pursuing a refund or replacement for a vehicle that is considered a lemon under the law, especially if the process does not seem to be going anywhere fast, the manufacturer is giving you pushback or if your state requires that you pursue the matter in court.
A lemon law attorney can provide you with numerous benefits. These include:
- Corresponding with the vehicle’s manufacturer on your behalf.
- Hastening the process of obtaining your refund or replacement.
- Maximizing the compensation that you may be entitled to under your state’s law.
- Negotiating with the vehicle manufacturer.
- Providing you with further details on the compensation to which you may be entitled.
Additional New and Used Car Laws
In addition to your state lemon law, you may qualify for additional laws that provide coverage to new or used faulty vehicles. The type of laws for which you may qualify will depend on what is available within your state. Additionally, as mentioned previously, you may qualify for protection under the Magnuson-Moss Warranty Act if you are experiencing problems with a new car purchase or a used vehicle that is covered under a warranty.
How to Tell if Your New Car is a Lemon
By the lemon law definition, a lemon vehicle contains a substantial mechanical failing that has been unrepairable, even after several attempts by the vehicle’s manufacturer or authorized repair location. Most lemon vehicles are relatively new, and lemons, in general, are considered very rare.
If your vehicle is covered by the lemon law warranty, it is important that you document any issues that your vehicle has had, repair attempts and any contact that you have had with the dealership from which the vehicle was purchased or the vehicle’s manufacturer. Keep all of your receipts, and pursue the compensation that you are allotted by law – in a timely manner – in order to retain coverage and compensation.