Lemon Laws

/Lemon Laws
Lemon Laws 2018-04-20T15:22:57+00:00

Lemon Law Rights

Think your Car is a Lemon? Every state has enacted their own laws pertaining to automobile warranties. Read your State’s lemon law to see how your State defines a Lemon, and whether your car and its repair history qualify. And even if your car is not considered a “lemon” in your State, you may have recourse under the Federal Magnuson-Moss Warranty Act which makes breach of warranty a violation of federal law.

The Lemon Law Process

Misinformation from your dealer, the mechanic at the repair shop, or the manufacturer concerning what you may be entitled to under the law shouldn’t deter your efforts. Don’t let them bully you into thinking you can’t seek legal help or that you don’t “qualify”. Your rights are determined by the Lemon Laws in your state and the Federal Lemon Law (Magnuson-Moss Warranty Act). When you pursue a Lemon Law claim, you could receive a cash settlement or a refund on all or part of your purchase price. Protect your rights, interests and investment and start the process of getting rid of that lemon today. By standing up for your rights you prove to the big manufacturers that they must be held responsible for making less than satisfactory products.

How the Lemon Law Process Works

Many consumers want to know how a lemon law claim would proceed if their vehicle or product falls under the law. Each state’s Lemon Laws are different; you may need an experienced Lemon Law lawyer to represent you.

How Does the Magnuson-Moss Warranty Act, the Federal Lemon Law, Protect Consumers

The Magnuson-Moss Warranty Act, the federal lemon law, regulates warranties on consumer products that do not perform as expected after purchase. The federal lemon applies to implied warranties, written (or express) warranties and service contracts. The statute is intended to protect consumers from deceptive warranty practices, ensuring that warranties when provided by a seller are more easily understood by the buyer and enforceable should a breach of warranty occur. The Magnuson-Moss Warranty Act is often referred to as the federal lemon law though each state has its own law regarding defective consumer products including vehicles.

A full warranty must fulfill certain specific requirements and in the event of a defect, malfunction, or if the product fails to conform to the written warranty, the warrantor can attempt to fix the product at no cost to the consumer and within a reasonable time period. A full warranty cannot restrict the duration of any implied warranty on the product and in the event of an issue that cannot be fixed or repair after numerous attempts; the consumer must be able to choose either a replacement or refund at no charge. If the damage associated with a warranted consumer product can be proven by the warrantor to have been caused by damage once the product had left the place of purchase or by unreasonable use, the warrantor’s responsibilities under the Act are waived.

For the purpose of service contract regulation, the Magnuson-Moss Warranty Act states that full and clear disclosure of the terms and conditions set forth in a service contract must be presented in an easy to read and comprehend manner in order to prevent any deception on the part of the seller and misinterpretation on the part of the buyer. In certain situations a service contract may fall under state law and thus would not be regulated under federal warranty law.

If a consumer pursues a remedy for a breach of warranty under the Magnuson-Moss Act, they may hire an attorney, file a complaint and pursue legal action against a warrantor. Reasonable attorney fees and court costs may be recovered under the act if the consumer or plaintiff prevails. CarLemon.com can connect you with an experienced lemon law attorney who can advise of your rights under both the federal lemon law and the lemon law in the state where the vehicle was purchased.

**The above section was pulled from https://www.carlemon.com/. There is quite a large amount of information available on this site including Lemon Laws in each state and contacts for Lemon Law attorneys in each state.

Used-Car Lemon Laws

The frequency and severity of consumers’ used-car problems has led some state legislatures to pass new laws. Currently, though, only six states — ConnecticutMassachusettsMinnesotaNew JerseyNew Mexico and New York — have used-car lemon laws on the books. The laws provide a statutory used-car warranty, often based upon the age or mileage of the vehicle. If the vehicle exhibits problems during the warranty period, the dealer gets a chance to repair them. If those fixes don’t work after several tries, the dealer usually must either replace the car or refund the buyer’s money.

At least seven states have some other form of used-car buyers’ rights, requiring used-car warranties or setting minimum standards for the sale of used cars: They are Arizona, Connecticut, Illinois, Maine, Nevada, New Mexico and Pennsylvania. Still other states, including North Carolina, have an unfair and deceptive practices statute that buyers can invoke. But only those states with true used-car lemon laws require the dealer to provide a replacement or refund for the car.

Beginning in 2013, people who buy their used cars at “buy-here, pay-here” car dealerships in California get an extra measure of used-car lemon protection. (Buy-here, pay-here dealerships are a particular kind of used-car business, specializing in older, high-mileage vehicles and catering to consumers who can’t qualify for conventional car loans.)

A new California law requires buy-here, pay-here dealerships to issue 30-day/1,000-mile warranties for the used vehicles they lease or sell. The existence of that warranty also gives buy-here, pay-here customers additional protection under the federal lemon law, the Magnuson-Moss Warranty Act. More about that later.

The Sorry State of Used-Car Regulations

Van Alst says that most states aren’t very effective at protecting used-car buyers from the myriad ways they can be swindled. “Most existing used-car lemon laws are so limited in scope — the number of days the car is covered and the allowable mileage — that the consumer may not experience the problem or won’t have a chance to act on the problem in that time period,” he said.

For example, Arizona law covers a used car only if a major component breaks within 15 days or 500 miles of its purchase — whichever comes first. For new cars, though, those terms extend to two years or 24,000 miles.

By contrast, many European consumers have stronger protections. In France, for example, a car buyer may cancel the transaction up to seven days after the sale. And a 1999 European Union directive allows consumers to seek redress for any problem that makes a vehicle unfit to drive for a full two years after the purchase.

As is always the case when buying a car, the only way to fully protect yourself is to come armed with information. Many consumer advocacy sites, such as The Center for Auto Safety, discuss new car lemon laws in detail, but obtaining information on used-car laws is trickier. We found Car Lemon (an attorney referral site) and Autopedia’s Lemon Law Information Page to have the broadest information on states’ used-vehicle lemon laws.

What if Your State Doesn’t Have a Used-Car Lemon Law?

For consumers who don’t live in a state with a used-car lemon law, or whose state laws don’t cover their individual situations, there are federal laws that may help:

  • The Uniform Commercial Code(UCC): Under the UCC, a used-car sale automatically includes an implied warranty that the car is fit for transportation. However, used-car dealers may deny (or “disclaim,” in legal parlance) the implied warranty if they sell the vehicle “as is,” which they typically do. In the few states that prohibit dealers from disclaiming the implied warranty (such as the District of Columbia, Maryland, Massachusetts and West Virginia), the UCC can be more effective than a used-car lemon law would be.
  • The Federal Trade Commission’s Used Car Rule: The Federal Trade Commission (FTC) requires dealers who sell five or more cars per year to post a Buyers Guidein every used car that’s offered for sale. The guide must show whether the vehicle is being sold “as is” or with a used-car warranty, what percentage (if any) of repair costs is covered by the dealer under the warranty and a list of the major defects that can occur on used vehicles.
  • Magnuson-Moss Warranty Act(a.k.a. federal lemon law): This law prohibits the disclaimer of an implied warranty when a car is sold with an express written warranty. It also provides for the awarding of attorney fees in particular cases.

How To Prepare for Battle

In order to determine if you truly have a lemon and to build a solid argument, make sure you’ve taken the following steps.

First, run vehicle history reports from Autocheck and Carfax. Van Alst also recommends a check of the federal government’s National Motor Vehicle Title Information System, which can be obtained through various vehicle-history vendors at a low cost. These reports expose many of the hidden problems associated with used cars, such as prior accidents and branded titles. Edmunds recommends that buyers run all three reports if possible. They can sometimes uncover different information. An important fact to consider: U.S. states do not require insurance companies to report when they fix a vehicle, although Canada does.

Do not rely on reports alone. Take the car to a qualified mechanic and a body shop that can spot signs of structural damage. Make sure they put it up on a lift. As with vehicle history reports, this is best done before the vehicle purchase, but if you’re trying to press your rights under state or federal lemon laws, it’s critical to determine the source of the vehicle’s problem.

Document the vehicle’s service history and retain all work orders and receipts. Download or print a vehicle repair log from Fraud Guides or Microsoft.

If the dealer still won’t provide satisfaction, or if you suspect fraud, send a complaint in writing to the vehicle’s manufacturer and your state’s attorney general’s office or department of consumer protection. The federal government’s Consumer Action Web site provides detailed information on how and where to file complaints (including sample letters), dispute resolution services, small claims court and more.

Calling Out the Big Guns

You don’t necessarily have to engage a lawyer to fight for your rights. Sometimes, a quick trip to small claims court will do the trick. But a good lemon-law attorney can determine whether you’ve got a serious case, especially when safety is an issue, and can shepherd you through the legal process. Many lemon lawyers don’t charge client fees, hoping to collect instead from the defendant.

You can find lemon law specialists in your state through the National Association of Consumer Advocates. Free legal aid to low-income individuals is available through the nonprofit Legal Services Corporation and National Legal Aid and Defender Association.

**The above section was pulled from https://www.edmunds.com/auto-warranty/my-used-cars-a-lemon-am-i-stuck-with-it.html

STATES WITH THE WORST LEMON LAWS

Louisiana. Imagine being without your brand new car for 3 months out of the first year before being able to get help through the Lemon Law. The 90 day “out-of-service” criteria is unrealistic. Who can afford to be without their car for that long? Coverage is only for one year.

Colorado & Alaska. Vehicles must be out of service for 30 business days (42-45 calendar days) before qualifying for the Lemon Law. Coverage is also only for one year, the least amount of time that states offer.

STATES WITH THE BEST LEMON LAWS

Vermont. Lemon Law coverage applies for as long as the manufacturer warranty is in effect. Most other states have a time limit 1-2 years & mileage limit of 12,000-24,000 miles.

**The above section was pulled from ww.carcomplaints.com/lemon_law/

Tips to win a lemon law case

Describe every problem in detail. When you drop the car off, be sure to describe the problem in detail, including when it occurs as well as any sounds or smells associated with it. If it’s a repeated problem, describe it in the same manner each time. You won’t be able to prove the problem is the same if the lemon law documentation doesn’t clearly show the same issues.

Make sure the dealer’s documentation is thorough. First, make sure the service adviser includes all of the details of the car’s symptoms in the repair order — the document he writes up and has you sign when you drop off the car. If he doesn’t, have him rewrite it before you sign it. When you pick up the car, make sure the documentation you are given describes what work was done, including any parts that were replaced. This will also be helpful later when the car goes out of warranty and the same part fails again. You can argue that the part was defective and you should get the second repair for free. Finally, be sure the dealer’s paperwork includes the dates that your car was in the shop for repairs.

While the car may have the same problem repeatedly, a dealer may perform different repairs on your car to try to clear the problem. The vehicle can still qualify as a lemon car as long as the problem is the same.

In any lemon law case, it’s essential to ensure the dealer’s paperwork shows the length of time the car was out of service. This is especially helpful for cars that have a wide range of problems and that the dealer seems to fix properly the first time. These cars can generally qualify under a state’s lemon law due to the number of days they are in the shop.

Understand what you are entitled to if you own a lemon car. If you make a lemon law claim on your car, you can choose between demanding a refund or a replacement car. Regardless of which you choose, you can only be charged a minimal fee for the miles you drove before the first repair that qualified you for lemon law coverage. Check your state’s lemon law to see how the fee is calculated.

If you want a refund, it typically includes sales tax, registration and other fees at the time of purchase as well as incidental fees caused by the lemon car, such as towing or rental car charges.

If you want a replacement vehicle, you should not be required to pay sales tax or any other fees associated with registering the new car. In addition, expenses you incurred due to owning a lemon car, such as towing and rental car costs, should be reimbursed by the manufacturer.

You may not need to pay for an attorney. Many automakers have formal arbitration programs written into your car’s warranty that owners are required to complete to get their lemon car replaced or their investment refunded. Some states have programs that assist consumers with this, and some even provide attorneys to help consumers through the lemon law process. In other states, you can get reimbursed for your attorney’s fees if your vehicle is determined to be a lemon car.

**The above section was pulled from: /www.bankrate.com/auto/4-juicy-tips-to-win-a-lemon-law-case/

State Lemons laws ranked by effectiveness

Generated in 2002 but still considered accurate

Calling Out the Big Guns

You don’t necessarily have to engage a lawyer to fight for your rights. Sometimes, a quick trip to small claims court will do the trick. But a good lemon-law attorney can determine whether you’ve got a serious case, especially when safety is an issue, and can shepherd you through the legal process. Many lemon lawyers don’t charge client fees, hoping to collect instead from the defendant.

You can find lemon law specialists in your state through the National Association of Consumer Advocates. Free legal aid to low-income individuals is available through the nonprofit Legal Services Corporation and National Legal Aid and Defender Association.

**The above section was pulled from https://www.edmunds.com/auto-warranty/my-used-cars-a-lemon-am-i-stuck-with-it.html

STATES WITH THE WORST LEMON LAWS

Louisiana. Imagine being without your brand new car for 3 months out of the first year before being able to get help through the Lemon Law. The 90 day “out-of-service” criteria is unrealistic. Who can afford to be without their car for that long? Coverage is only for one year.

Colorado & Alaska. Vehicles must be out of service for 30 business days (42-45 calendar days) before qualifying for the Lemon Law. Coverage is also only for one year, the least amount of time that states offer.

STATES WITH THE BEST LEMON LAWS

Vermont. Lemon Law coverage applies for as long as the manufacturer warranty is in effect. Most other states have a time limit 1-2 years & mileage limit of 12,000-24,000 miles.

**The above section was pulled from ww.carcomplaints.com/lemon_law/

Tips to win a lemon law case

Describe every problem in detail. When you drop the car off, be sure to describe the problem in detail, including when it occurs as well as any sounds or smells associated with it. If it’s a repeated problem, describe it in the same manner each time. You won’t be able to prove the problem is the same if the lemon law documentation doesn’t clearly show the same issues.

Make sure the dealer’s documentation is thorough. First, make sure the service adviser includes all of the details of the car’s symptoms in the repair order — the document he writes up and has you sign when you drop off the car. If he doesn’t, have him rewrite it before you sign it. When you pick up the car, make sure the documentation you are given describes what work was done, including any parts that were replaced. This will also be helpful later when the car goes out of warranty and the same part fails again. You can argue that the part was defective and you should get the second repair for free. Finally, be sure the dealer’s paperwork includes the dates that your car was in the shop for repairs.

While the car may have the same problem repeatedly, a dealer may perform different repairs on your car to try to clear the problem. The vehicle can still qualify as a lemon car as long as the problem is the same.

In any lemon law case, it’s essential to ensure the dealer’s paperwork shows the length of time the car was out of service. This is especially helpful for cars that have a wide range of problems and that the dealer seems to fix properly the first time. These cars can generally qualify under a state’s lemon law due to the number of days they are in the shop.

Understand what you are entitled to if you own a lemon car. If you make a lemon law claim on your car, you can choose between demanding a refund or a replacement car. Regardless of which you choose, you can only be charged a minimal fee for the miles you drove before the first repair that qualified you for lemon law coverage. Check your state’s lemon law to see how the fee is calculated.

If you want a refund, it typically includes sales tax, registration and other fees at the time of purchase as well as incidental fees caused by the lemon car, such as towing or rental car charges.

If you want a replacement vehicle, you should not be required to pay sales tax or any other fees associated with registering the new car. In addition, expenses you incurred due to owning a lemon car, such as towing and rental car costs, should be reimbursed by the manufacturer.

You may not need to pay for an attorney. Many automakers have formal arbitration programs written into your car’s warranty that owners are required to complete to get their lemon car replaced or their investment refunded. Some states have programs that assist consumers with this, and some even provide attorneys to help consumers through the lemon law process. In other states, you can get reimbursed for your attorney’s fees if your vehicle is determined to be a lemon car.

**The above section was pulled from: /www.bankrate.com/auto/4-juicy-tips-to-win-a-lemon-law-case/

State Lemons laws ranked by effectiveness

Generated in 2002 but still considered accurate

1. California
2. New Jersey
3. Ohio
4. West Virginia
5. Arkansas
6. Hawaii
7. Georgia
8. Connecticut
9. Washington
10. New Hampshire
11. Virginia
12. Maine
13. Massachusetts
14. Texas
15. Wisconsin
16. Vermont
17. Maryland
18. New York
19. North Carolina
20. District of Columbia
21. South Carolina
22. Minnesota
23. Iowa
24. Alabama
25. Arizona

26. Montana
27. Florida
27. Rhode Island
29. Idaho
30. Delaware
31. Louisiana
32 Wyoming
33. Nebraska
34. Pennsylvania
35. South Dakota
36. Kansas
37. Indiana
38. Michigan
39. Mississippi
40. Missouri
41. Utah
42. Oklahoma
43. Oregon
44. Tennessee
45. Alaska
46. Kentucky
47. Nevada
48. New Mexico
49. Illinois
50. Colorado
51. North Dakota

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