State and federal lemon laws enable purchasers of defective vehicles to have their faulty cars repaired or replaced or to receive a refund. Lemon law also covers other consumer products with warranties, such as computers, appliances, and home furnishings.
To qualify as a lemon, your car must have significant defects that affect the value or use of your vehicle, and you must report to the manufacturer within a specific time frame after the original delivery.
What Is a Lemon?
Lemons are a bright yellow citrus fruit mainly used for its juice, but they can also be made into preserves and added to various foods. Lemons are grown in several different countries and can be purchased fresh year-round.
State and federal laws, referred to as “lemon law” after the slang term, enable automobile purchasers to receive a new vehicle or refund if their car has severe mechanical problems that cannot be fixed. The requirements vary by state, but generally, a manufacturer must be given a reasonable number of attempts to fix the defect or issues.
Almost all types of motor vehicles, including cars, trucks, vans, SUVs, and motorcycles, are covered under state and federal lemon laws. In addition, many consumer products that include warranties may be covered, such as home appliances, computers, and furniture. Before filing a lemon lawsuit, discussing your case with a knowledgeable attorney is essential.
How Do I Get My Car Fixed?
The specifics of lemon law, like the lemon law in Florida, vary from state to state, but most laws require a manufacturer to repair or replace your vehicle or refund your money. To qualify as a lemon, your new car must have one major problem that the manufacturer or dealer has failed to fix after a reasonable number of attempts. This usually means at least four or more tries or 30 days out of service due to repairs.
Many states also include an arbitration provision in which an independent arbitrator determines whether your vehicle is a lemon and awards you compensation. New York has an out-of-court dispute resolution program called BBB Auto Line, one of the country’s most extensive and longest-running lemon law arbitration programs.
If you have a new car with a significant defect, contacting an experienced lemon law attorney is always best. They can help you avoid unnecessary trips to the mechanic and negotiate with the manufacturer for a fair settlement. And with free case reviews, you have nothing to lose by consulting an attorney early.
How Do I Know if My Car is a Lemon?
While car manufacturers have rigorous quality assurance protocols to ensure vehicles function properly, mistakes happen. When those mistakes result in purchasing or leasing a defective vehicle, you may qualify for compensation under your state’s lemon law. A qualified California lemon law firm can help you through the process.
Most states deem vehicles a lemon after a reasonable number of repair attempts (amounts vary by state). Safety-related defects, such as faulty brakes or steering systems, typically only get one chance to fix before becoming a lemon. At the same time, non-safety issues may receive up to four chances before being deemed a lemon.
Before buying a new vehicle, research the make and model you want to purchase by reading Consumer Reports’Reports’ annual reliability reports. Additionally, always be sure the car you are buying comes with a warranty and is still within its applicable manufacturer’s warranty period. Although it is impossible to predict if you will have a lemon, some common signs to look out for can alert you to potential problems.
How Do I Get My Money Back?
The New York Lemon Law and the federal Magnuson-Moss Warranty Act enable consumers to seek compensation from manufacturers for defective vehicles or other products subject to multiple repair attempts. This compensation can be a vehicle buyback, refund, or replacement and may also include money damages for specific repair and rental costs.
Most states, including New York, have their version of the Lemon Law and other consumer protection laws. These laws often allow consumers to file a lawsuit in court rather than participate in the manufacturer’s dispute resolution program.
The judge can award the plaintiff a reasonable attorney’s fee if a lawsuit succeeds. This is known as “fee-shifting, ” incentivizing consumers to hire an experienced attorney.
Some states have the Consumer Fraud Act, which provides triple damages and attorney fees to consumers who can prove that a dealer or manufacturer misrepresented or withheld information about a vehicle. An experienced lemon law attorney can help a client obtain these maximum awards.
What Can I Do if I Can’t Get My Car Fixed?
If you’ve taken your car in for a reasonable number of repair attempts and the problem persists, you can file a lemon law case. Remember, however, that your attorney will need a lot of detailed documentation, such as repair order forms, calendars indicating when you took your car to the dealer for repairs, and correspondence with the manufacturer regarding your lemon law claim.
Some states require that consumers who want to take legal action first submit their complaint to a manufacturer-sponsored arbitration program, which the company must set up and have certified by the state. An experienced lemon law attorney can help you through the arbitration process.
Note, however, that dealer-installed options and aftermarket modifications do not qualify for lemon law protection. If you believe your car has been tampered with, it’s essential to have an expert inspect the odometer before taking any further action. A qualified attorney can provide a thorough, independent evaluation of your situation and recommend the best next steps.