Lemon laws are laws designed to protect people who buy new cars from getting a vehicle that is unsafe and defective. While you may be able to drive a lemon off the car lot, you probably won’t be driving it long. If you’ve had issues with a car you recently purchased, you need to understand how the lemon laws work.
Lemon laws are created by each state and may differ in how a lemon is defined and your recourse if you buy one. It’s important to note that you may think you bought a lemon because it is always breaking down, but it may not qualify as one in your state.
Generally, a car would be defined as a lemon if you had the same issue repaired multiple times while the car is under warranty and it can’t be fixed. For instance, Alabama defines it as three attempts at repair and a warranty period of one year. California provides for four attempts at repair or only two if the defect is serious enough to cause death or major injuries.
First, you need to allow the manufacturer a chance to repair the issue. This may mean taking the car in for the same problem repeatedly. Just make sure you document all attempts made at a repair along with the date.
If you feel you have a lemon, you may need to hire an attorney. Most states require you to do so if you want to resolve a dispute. What a lot of car buyers don’t know is that you take the manufacturer to court rather than the dealer who sold the vehicle.
Some states will use the BBB Autoline or another informal process for resolution, which means you will have to present your case to an arbitrator before you may sue in court. Some of these programs are administered by the state while others are private.
Lemon laws cover you for problems with a brand-new vehicle. However, they don’t all cover used vehicles with similar issues. You may have to talk with an attorney to determine if the vehicle you purchased is covered by this law.
Because lemon laws differ by state and you may not be sure what qualifies under this label, it’s important to contact an attorney if you have a car that is continually causing you problems.