When life gives you lemons, you may have a legal precedent to resolve the issues. Only if it’s a lemon car that is.
Getting sold a lemon car is frustrating at best and a financial nightmare at worst. But many states have laws that help protect buyers when this happens.
The first thing you need to ask yourself though is, “is my car a lemon?”
Is My Car a Lemon?
A lemon car refers to a car with a substantive defect that a manufacturer or dealer cannot fix within a reasonable amount of time. It’s frustratingly subjective language, so we’ll dive into it a bit further.
A substantive defect is a major defect that occurs within the warranty of the vehicle which devalues it. These are major issues such as faulty steering or brakes. While minor problems like with a door handle are unlikely to qualify your car as a lemon.
But unlikely doesn’t mean impossible. Things like inadequate paint jobs have qualified as a major enough issue to be a lemon car before.
The key component is that the defect should have happened within a certain amount of time or mileage. It cannot be a defect as a result of an accident.
“Within a reasonable amount of time” refers to the idea that the dealer or manufacturer must have a chance to fix it. This means they need to be given a reasonable number of attempts. What is considered a reasonable amount of time varies a lot from state to state, but broadly speaking 30 days in the repair shop is the limit.
If your car has met these all requirements and the issue persists, then it could be a lemon.
Lemon law exists on both a state and a federal level.
At the federal level, Title 15 Chapter 50 of the US Code addresses lemon law, though not in so many words. It sets out regulations for products that are covered by a warranty.
This law compels manufacturers to refund or replace the product at no additional cost to the customer. This is provided a reasonable number of attempts have been made to fix the issue as we outlined above.
State laws vary, but they tend to back up the federal law. For example, in Michigan, the lemon law states a reasonable number of attempts is four. After this, you can sue under state lemon law for a refund or replacement vehicle.
While federal lemon law refers to new or almost new cars, some state lemon laws cover used vehicles as well. You can learn more about these laws on your state’s department of motor vehicles website or your state attorney general’s website.
Remember you’ll need to have proof of the defect, as well as proof of the number of attempts made to resolve the defect.
Seek Legal Advice
If your answer to the question, “is my car a lemon?” is still a resounding yes after reading this article, then you may be able to make a legal claim against the dealer or manufacturer. Because of varying state laws, it’s often best to get a lawyer to guide you through this process.
For more automotive and legal advice, make sure to check out our blog.