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Lemon Laws: Knowing Your Rights

Aug 17, 2007
Every state has its own Lemon Laws in effect to deal with unscrupulous car dealers that sell used cars and trucks in need of serious repair, without disclosing problems to potential buyers. Understanding your state's Lemon Laws can save you thousands of dollars in costly repairs, and ease the stress of dealing with dealers and mechanics that may refuse to fix the problems once the vehicle has been driven off the lot.

Lemon Law protection can vary greatly from state to state. In California, for instance, it is illegal for a dealer to sell a car with unsafe tires, non functioning lights or even broken or chipped glass, while New York car buyers are guaranteed at least a limited warranty when purchasing a vehicle with less than 10,000 miles or that is sold for more than $1,500.00. To find out more about the restrictions offered under your state's lemon laws, contact the state attorney general's office or consumer protection agency.

What To Do If Your New Car Turns Out To be A Lemon..

When Buying From A Dealer:
When purchasing a new or used car or truck from a dealer, you may have a bit more leverage to negotiate a fair settlement, than you would have with a private seller.

If you are having a problem with a car that is still under warranty, but the dealer refuses to fix it, contact the warranty's service representative in your area for assistance. These representative's are authorized to approve repairs, despite the dealer or their mechanics say.

If the vehicle in question was purchased by a franchise dealer, contact the National Automotive Dealer's Association's Consumer Action Program at 1-800-252-6232 or visit their website at nada.com.

When a buyer suspects that car they recently purchased may have been a rebuilt wreck, it's important to contact the National Association of Consumer Advocates at naca.net. They can put the buyer in touch with an attorney that deals specifically with this issue.

Dealing with a lemon can be frustrating, especially when the buyer thinks that they've safeguarded themselves by purchasing their new or used vehicle from a reputable dealer. Before deciding to take the dealer to court to rectify the situation, first consider mediation through a dispute-resolution organization to help expedite the arbitration process. If, however, the dealer is unwilling to meet with a mediator, finding a good lawyer may be the next best option.

When Buying From A Private Seller:
When purchasing a vehicle from a private dealer, extra caution must be taken to avoid getting stuck with a lemon, since the buyer's options for reaching an amiable agreement are much less than when purchasing a car from a dealer.

Try to get a written guarantee as to the condition of the car in writing prior to the sale. Small claims court is the best court option to solve disputes for restitution amounts under $2,000. No lawyer is needed for small claims court, saving the buyer legal fees. Contact the clerk at your local small claims court for more details on filing a suit.

Buying a used car can be risky, whether purchasing it from a dealer, or a private owner. Buyers should always be cautious when considering a used car or truck and have it checked over well by a certified mechanic before committing to any purchase.
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