Buying a new car is an exciting process. But there are lots of processes involved in buying the perfect vehicle. Finalizing the type, brand, model and then ascertaining the payment type are some of the processes involved in buying a car. However, the confusion does not end there. There are chances your new buy may have flaws. Most cars are covered under manufacturer warranty and can be taken back to the dealerships for repair. But what if both the dealer and manufacturer fail to fix the problem? Or do the problems keep reappearing from time to time? In such a case, you may have purchased a lemon car. Thankfully, there are state laws in place that protect consumers from bearing the burden of defective cars. These laws are known as lemon laws. Lemon laws are enacted both at federal and state levels. To benefit from these laws, you should know what defect or problem qualifies for the law to be enforced in your state. Hiring a lemon law attorney can help you get through the process and aid you in getting a replacement or refund for your car.
Lemon laws vary from state to state. However, for a car to legally qualify as a lemon under the majority of the state laws, it should meet the following parameters:
The car should have a substantial defect that is covered under warranty:
Legally, a substantial defect is defined as a flaw that impairs the vehicle’s value, usage, or safety and is covered under a manufacturer’s warranty. For instance, faulty breaks or steering are considered substantial defects as they compromise the driver's safety and deem the vehicle useless. On the other hand, faults such as loose handles or radio door knobs do not qualify as substantial defects. With that being said, there are exceptional situations where some not-so-obvious problems have been treated as substantial defects. Horrendous smells and defective paint jobs are some of the cases that have been classified as substantial defects.
For a flaw to be considered a substantial defect, it should occur within a certain period after buying the vehicle or within a certain number of miles. Further, defects caused by abuse are not considered to be substantial defects.
Reasonable attempts to repair the car show no result:
Before considering your car a lemon, you should allow dealers and manufacturers to make a reasonable number of attempts to repair the vehicle. Typically, your car should meet one of the following standards to be legally considered a lemon:
There is a range of laws that enable consumers to demand compensation from manufacturers. State lemon laws, however, offer the most effective way to obtain compensation for defective vehicles. Lemon laws lay down the statutes that specify when a manufacturer breaches the written warranty they offer. These statutes also comprise the provision of offering compensation for the lawyer fees if the consumers seek legal support. Lemon laws equip the customer to demand and obtain a refund or replacement of a lemon car.
If your car meets your state’s lemon law requirements, you can demand a refund or replacement for your vehicle from the manufacturer. The process for demanding and obtaining relief varies from state to state. However, notifying the manufacturer about the defect is mandatory before beginning proceedings in every state. The next step in the procedure is to go through arbitration. When signing the contract with the manufacturer for buying the vehicle, you agree to go through arbitration mandatorily.
Manufacturers use several different arbitration procedures. In most cases, the manufacturer decides on the arbitration procedure. If given a choice, you should opt for a state consumer protection arbitration program over private or manufacturer’s in-house arbitration programs.
Some states mandate consumers to go through the BBB Auto Line dispute resolution. Run by the Better Business Bureau (BBB) is a free dispute resolution program to resolve lemon law disputes. The program works with your best interests in mind and will guide you at each step of the process. It will guide you in document collection, negotiating settlements, and navigating through the arbitration process.
Going into the process with substantial evidence and documentation is a must. Some documents that can help strengthen your claim are:
Hiring a lemon law attorney can help you in the following ways:
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