How To Utilize the Lemon Law

Lemon laws are laws that enable you to get a replacement vehicle if your newly purchased automobile turns out to be defective.  You may also be entitled to a refund if the dealer cannot satisfactorily repair the defective auto.

How to Determine if Your Car's a Lemon
If you think your car is defective, then the first thing to do is, familiarize yourself with your state's lemon laws. Lemon laws vary widely from state to state. What is accepted as a lemon in one state, may be only be an orange in another. Seek out information from the local consumer protection organization or even a private law firm for advice on what to do.

General Rule of Thumb
However, the general rule of thumb for most states is: a car is considered defective if, after several repair attempts, the vehicle substantially restricts its use, safety or value. In other words, if you have a problem and the car is still not functioning after four repair attempts on the same problem, or a directly related problem crops up six months to a year later, then chances are you're the owner of a lemon.  Another deciding factor is when the vehicle has been out of commission at least 30 or more days within the first year from the date it was sold.

Keep Driving or File Suit
First things first. Immediately notify the manufacturer and the dealer who sold the car. Remember, lemon laws rarely apply to used cars, so if you bought used you really do need to check state statutes before filing. Keep all of the repair bills pertaining to the problem. Make copies to send to the interested parties and keep the originals in your files. These receipts serve as your record on repairs, money spent, and time lost due to your inability to use your auto.

What's the Process

Most states require all parties to take part in an arbitration process before you get a refund or replacement vehicle. Not all states sponsor the arbitration procedures, however. Some states allow the manufacturer to sponsor the procedure, which may not be fair to the consumer. Arbitration is usually free and only binding on the manufacturer. If you don't like the outcome, you can still sue the car maker in court.

Can the Car be Driven in the Meantime
If it is driveable, yes, the car can be used until the situation is resolved. But if the car does turn out to be a lemon, then the seller can deduct your mileage from the refund.


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