Featured News 2018 What to Know About the Lemon Law

What to Know About the Lemon Law

Is your new vehicle breaking down?

Have you spent countless hours and dollars replacing vehicle parts that never should have broken down in the first place?

You may have purchased a "lemon"—the unfortunate product of a dishonest dealership or poor manufacturing.

Laws Protecting Consumers from Poor Manufacturing

Breach of warranty laws demand that sellers and manufacturers provide goods that are safe and meet the reasonable expectations of the public. Breach of warranty of merchantability governs whether the good meets a general buyer's reasonable expectation—in a car's case, that could mean "this car drives for longer than a month without needing substantial repair." Fitness regulations govern whether a car meets a buyer's specific, agreed-upon expectations. For example, when contractors buy trucks, they expect the truck to haul a certain amount of weight—if a truck fails to do so without breaking down, that's a breach of warranty of fitness.

But what happens when the same problem keeps coming up, no matter how much time and money gets poured into it?

Every state in the Union has what are colloquially called "Lemon Laws," or laws that obligate auto manufacturers to buy back new cars from owners when the warranty is insufficient to cover the car's problems. The exact criteria will vary by state—for instance, California's Lemon Law requires that a car be new (i.e. the buyer bought it 18 months or less prior) and that it have less than 18,000 miles on the odometer.

Most laws statewide require that the buyer have made multiple attempts to repair the same problem or that the car be out of service for a certain length of time. In some states, that length of time could be up to 30 days. For people who commute, inconvenience of that scale could result in serious loss of work hours.

What Happens If the Manufacturer Doesn't Pay?

If the vehicle owner wishes to take the manufacturer to court, there are procedures that must be followed. For instance, the manufacturer and the buyer have to take their warranty dispute to a state-sponsored arbitration program to attempt to resolve the case out of court.

For businesses, the only vehicles applicable under the Lemon Law must weigh less than 10,000 pounds and be bought for the purpose of business such as a company car, corporation, or association vehicle. The Lemon Law stipulates that businesses are limited to five vehicles per organization. Also, a motor vehicle that is purchased as a family or household car is a benefactor under the Lemon Law conditions.

If your vehicle has put you in the mechanic's shop week after week, it's time to contact a lawyer. Call a Lemon Law attorney in your state to hold the manufacturer responsible for replacing your vehicle.

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