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The Lemon Law - Taking The Law Into Your Own Hands

Aug 19, 2007
The automobile lemon laws were designed to protect car buyers from irreparable manufacturers' defects in automobiles that should be ordinarily be covered under warranty.

So How Did The Lemon Laws Come About?

Consumer demand for lemon law protection started to swell from around 1972, when more than one million people were found to have paid for vehicles that had problems that dealers could not, or would not, repair. Connecticut and California were the first states to adopt an automobile lemon law, and other states were quick to follow. They've had a dramatic effect on vehicle quality and today, with the increased accountability demanded by lemon laws, claims have dropped to about 100,000 new cases a year.

So What Is Covered Under Lemon Law?

Every state now has an automobile lemon law and the specifics of each vary widely. However, as a general guideline, you are considered a candidate for protection under the lemon law if you have a serious problem (or, in certain cases, a string of minor problems) that falls under your car warranty. A problem is usually considered serious when it threatens the use, value, or safety of the vehicle.

Some examples of serious problems that would probably be covered include brake failure, transmission problems, and repeated non-starts. The lemon law in most states will not cover thing like funny noises, loose cup holders, and peeling paint - most times that's just fair wear and tear.

The type or ownership of vehicles is also important when it comes to protection under the lemon law. In some states, leased vehicles are covered as well as wholly owned vehicles. Others exclude automobiles purchased for business purposes or special kinds of vehicles such as RVs and motorcycles. Even used vehicles may be covered if they come with a car warranty.

Inevitably, some shady car dealers try and write a clause in sales contracts that states that no lemon law claims can be made against the vehicle. These provisions are totally invalid and can be ignored - as long as your vehicle has a car warranty and qualifies under the other automobile lemon law provisions, you will be covered no matter what you originally signed.

Before any lemon law comes into effect you must give the manufacturer ample opportunity to repair the problem in question. This is usually defined as a specific number of repair attempts (for example, four attempts to repair the same problem) or a certain amount of time when the vehicle is out of action (for example, four weeks). A life-threatening vehicle defect may require only one attempt at repair before falling under the lemon law.

So What Happens if I Qualify for the Automobile Lemon Law?

If you believe that you qualify for protection you must file a claim with the manufacturer within a certain period of time. Usually, the case will then be brought for arbitration with the manufacturer. If you win your case, you will most often receive a replacement vehicle or a refund of your purchase price minus a fee for vehicle use.
About the Author
Most laws restrict but the lemon laws, almost uniquely, have empowered thousands of American consumers in putting right some very obvious wrongs. For specific detail on your situation visit Lemon Law Advice Made Easy and get the power.
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