Buying a new or used car can be a wonderful feeling, but the excitement may quickly fade if you find that your vehicle doesn’t quite live up to the manufacturer’s promise. When a car has problems that extend beyond the boundaries of the manufacturer’s written warranty, the consumer needs to know that he is still protected.
That’s where lemon laws for cars come in. In 1975, the federal government established the Magnusson-Moss Warranty Act. This was federal legislation mandating legal protection for car buyers on defects not covered in a manufacturer’s written warranty. The Magnusson-Moss Warranty Act established that defects or damage outside of the warranty’s stated coverage would still be the manufacturer’s responsibility and it encouraged consumers to be more aware of exactly what their warranty covers before they make a purchase.
While this federal legislation exists to cover the entire country, each state has also developed their own individual lemon laws to protect consumers even more. Before you attempt to file suit under your state’s lemon law, it is important that you know exactly what it covers and make sure that your case fits within those parameters. Failure to do so could stop your case in its tracks.
Each State Has Its Own Lemon Law Statutes
Lemon laws differ from state to state, mostly in terms of the kind of vehicles that are covered and how many attempts at repairing the damage or defect are attempted before the law applies. In most cases, a minimum of three attempts must be made to fix the car before legally declaring it a lemon and seeking recompense. Some states may allow four or more repair attempts and some will also vary on the amount of time that a warranty actually covers, which can affect lemon status.
Before you attempt to file a claim under any lemon law, you need to understand what constitutes a lemon. A lemon is defined as any vehicle that has defects or damage that prevents it from functioning safely. Cosmetic issues or non-essential flaws like peeling paint or broken light fixtures would not qualify a car as a lemon, but defective brakes, problems shifting gears or the inability of the engine to warm up adequately on cold mornings would.
As stated above, under the federal lemon law all manufacturers must be given a chance to address and repair the defect before a car can be claimed as a lemon. Depending on the state, if there are as many as 3 or 4 unsuccessful attempts to fix the same problem within the warranty period then the car can officially be declared one.
Getting Legal Help Can Improve Your Chances of Success
Because of the variances from state-to-state, this process can be complicated and in most cases, you are better off hiring a lawyer to help you file a claim. Seeking the advice of a lawyer is always recommended. In most cases, your lawyer will advise that the case must first go to arbitration to attempt a resolution without legal intervention. Once a good faith attempt has been made on the part of both the buyer and seller to rectify the problem this way, if there isn’t a satisfactory solution then the case may be taken to court.
Having a lawyer handle the case for you is your best shot at assuring a positive outcome. You can also improve your case by carefully documenting each repair attempt. Lemon laws can be complicated, but they are there to provide for your protection, so you shouldn’t hesitate to make use of them. Just make sure you proceed cautiously and keep good records so that you can make your case and get the justice you deserve.
Lemon Laws Are On Your Side
Don’t be intimidated or afraid to take action if you get stuck with a problem vehicle. Look into the specific lemon laws in your state and seek the advice of an attorney who specializes in this area. They can help you build your case and hopefully have a satisfactory outcome.
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