Lemon laws stand up for the little guy

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If you buy a toaster that turns out to not work correctly, you’d expect that you’d have legal recourse in terms of calling the manufacturer or taking it back to the store you purchased it from and exchanging it for a new one. Why would you lose that same level of protection on one of the biggest purchases you could make, a new car?

Thankfully, “lemon laws” exist that give buyers protection if faced with ongoing mechanical issues in a new or certified used vehicle. 

The origins of lemon laws

Lemon laws have been around since the 1970s, with the passing of the Magnuson-Moss Warranty Act and the universal adoption of the Uniform Commercial Code. These laws offer protections for buyers who’ve been unfairly saddled with repeated issues in new or used vehicles (provided they haven’t been purchased “as-is”).

Lemon laws vary in their eligibility and criteria, but generally, they give buyers the option to:

  • Return the vehicle to the dealership for service (without charge)
  • Exchange the defective vehicle for a replacement
  • Get a refund of their purchase price

How claims work

Dealerships have a reasonable amount of time and number of attempts to correct a problem before they are required to offer a refund or exchange, and that number is up for interpretation. Some courts have indicated that four times is more than enough to be able to determine if an issue is indeed fixable, but other cases required fewer repair visits. In general, if repairs take more than 30 days in the first year of ownership, the car is unfit for its intended purpose so replacement or refund is proper.

These cases are highly fact-specific, and that is one reason why having an experienced lemon law attorney at your side can be very beneficial. Where you alone might get the proverbial run-around from a dealership or manufacturer, an attorney contacting them could be treated very differently.

If you find yourself dealing with a lemon vehicle, reach out to a local attorney well-versed in these matters. You’ll have a statistically higher chance of a quicker, more satisfactory result than if you stand up to the car manufacturer or dealer on your own.

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