A lemon law is a law that protects consumers when they buy an item that fails to function as it was intended. It usually means that the vehicle has a substantial defect or recurring issue that impairs the use, value or operational safety. While lemon laws vary from state to state as to details, most include requiring a certain number of unsuccessful repair attempts for the same problem, usually two to four. The laws also stipulate that the defect must have been discovered within a certain period of time or a certain mileage limit on the vehicle.
Remedies under a lemon law may include requiring rescinding of the purchase, a replacement of the vehicle, or a significant settlement with the owner retaining ownership of the vehicle. In some purchases from dealerships, there may be an arbitration clause, meaning that the buyer is giving up his right to sue the dealership or manufacturer in court and instead agrees to arbitration. This may mean using an arbitrator chosen by the manufacturer. This is another good reason to read sales contracts carefully before signing.
Mostly, lemon laws apply to new vehicles, but they may also apply to used car purchases in certain situations. Basically, they apply to used cars purchased from a dealer that have some kind of manufacturer’s warranty in force. Independent dealers may offer limited warranties as well, such as one for 90 days or so. If state laws don’t cover your problem, a federal law called the Magnuson-Moss Warranty Act may be able to help.
If you buy a vehicle from an independent dealer without such a warranty or from a private party, the sale is usually termed to be “as-is,” unless you receive a written warranty from the seller. In fact, most bills of sale for used vehicles sold in this manner will state that the item is being sold as-is. This means that once the sale is completed, the vehicle is yours along with any problems it has. The only real exception to this is if you can prove that fraud has occurred, such as an odometer that has been tampered with along with a false statement of the actual mileage on the car.
When you buy a vehicle, be sure to keep all paperwork regarding repair attempts and service on it. Also keep a log of any contact with the dealership, such as phone calls, as to date, to whom you spoke, and what was said. Keep all e-mails and text messages as well. This will help greatly to prove your claim in case the matter goes to court. If you can’t get anywhere with the dealer, there are many attorneys well versed in lemon law matters. jkashanilaw.com is one good source for help with a lemon vehicle. Contact them and see what they can do for your matter.