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Automotive Lemon Law

The car I bought is a lemon -- Now what do I do?
Automotive Lemon Laws


What is a "Lemon" ? - Lemon Law Definition

In short, a Lemon is a car that just cant seem to get fixed no matter what the dealer does and how many times he does it. Basically, lemon laws allow customer to return a defective car if certain criteria are met. Usually it is very difficult to persuade the manufacturer to accept the lemon law return, and often the issue will end up as a lemon lawsuit.

The Lemon Law tries to define certain situations that entitle consumers to their money back or a new vehicle. Under the Lemon Laws in your State, and the Federal Warranty Act, you have legal rights which may allow you to obtain one of the following: A new car; a full refund; or partial refund for your defective car.

The Lemon Law is a state law, which defines when a manufacturer has breached its warranty and what the victim is entitled to for such a breach of warranty. Some States provide for a full refund or a replacement vehicle and mandatory Attorney's fees if the affected consumer prevails.


What to do if you have a Lemon Law Claim

Check the vehicle's warranty in order to inform yourself about the proper steps to take to guarantee legal recourse. (A warranty is a written guarantee that the vehicle is of good, sound quality.) Hopefully, you can resolve the problem with your automobile dealer. They should want to remedy the problem to maximize future car sales.

If you cannot resolve the problem with your automobile dealer, contact an attorney with experience in Lemon Laws. They should attempt to resolve the claim with the manufacturer at no cost to you. Should the manufacturer refuse to comply with its lemon law obligations you can file suit and seek compensation under the lemon law in your state. Should your case settle, the manufacturer should pay all attorney fees and costs. Unless you

What types of products are covered by the Lemon Law ?

Most automobiles primarily used for personal use are covered under the automotive lemon laws of most states.


When Does my Vehicle Qualify under the Lemon Law?

Should the manufacturer fail to abide by its obligations under the lemon law you have the statutory right to file suit in court seeking compensation for your claim. The lemon law act provides for payment of all attorney fees and costs should the consumer prevail.


Should I Take it in Again?

The answer to that question depends on the facts and circumstances of each case. Therefore, at this point, the best thing to do is maintain the status quo until you have the chance to speak with a qualified attorney. In other words, do not allow the condition of the vehicle to change by having any repair work done to it. However, if your vehicle is dangerous and you continue to use it, you do so at your own risk. It is important to remember that if you decide to go forward many of the manufacturers will want to inspect your vehicle. You have a much better chance of obtaining the Lemon Law relief you seek if you can demonstrate a defect. If you cannot, you may still be entitled to compensation, but the chances of you getting what you want may be reduced somewhat.

What if they Refuse to Repair?

If the dealer refuses to repair your vehicle, you may also have a Lemon Law claim. The manufacturer has given a warranty, which in most circumstances requires the dealer to do repair work. If the dealer and/or the manufacturer then refuse to do the repair work, you may have a claim under the Lemon Law, Federal Warranty Law and/or other laws. Check with an attorney, often times a letter from an attorney makes a tremendous difference in a dealership's attitude.


What Documents do I Need to Prove a Lemon Law or a Breach of Warranty Case?

The most important documents that you should have to Prove a Lemon Law or a Breach of Warranty Case are the repair orders that you are given after your vehicle has been in for repair. Each time you take your vehicle in for repair you should make sure that all the information contained on these documents is correct.

For example, you should be sure that all the complaints are written up EXACTLY as you have stated them; that ALL of your complaints on that visit are included; that the "dates in" and the "dates out" are correct; that the mileage is correct; etc. In most states, dealers are required under the Lemon Law to give you a copy of all of your repair orders. Also, if you keep a calendar of appointments, which shows when you took the vehicle in to the dealer, this can be helpful in lieu of or in addition to the repair orders.

Basically keep copies of all documentation you have regarding your vehicle and its history. This includes all repair orders, purchase contracts, warranty book and owners manual that came with your car. Also keep written notes of all conversations you have with your dealership and repair technicians concerning your vehicle and its "lemon" potential. Include the date, time and what specifically was discussed. This includes phone calls and in-person contact.

  • DO NOT leave the dealership without your repair order (no repair order means no proof of repair).
  • Make sure the repair order accurately reflects the date you dropped off the vehicle for repair and the date you picked up the vehicle when the repairs were completed.
  • Make sure the dealership accurately describes your complaints in your words, not the dealership's words.
    Save all your repair orders.
  • Ignore the dealership and the manufacturer if they tell you that you do not have a lemon law claim


What if I Bought my Vehicle Used?

If you still had any warranty left from the manufacturer when you purchased your vehicle (or your vehicle was "Certified" by the manufacturer or dealer), and you made at least one unsuccessful warranty claim before the warranty ended, you may be entitled to compensation for breach of warranty.

One or more of the following procedures may prove to be useful in discovering whether there is something about your vehicle that you were not told:

  • Go to CARFAX and obtain a vehicle history for your car;
  • Consult an auto body shop to determine if your vehicle was previously in an accident;
  • Have your Insurance Company run your Vehicle Identification Number (VIN) on their computer (may be called a C.L.U.E. report) to see if an accident claim was ever made with another insurance company;

What if I was Lied To, Misled or Taken Advantage of in Connection with the Purchase of my Vehicle?

Again, your case may raise a whole host of issues that are beyond the scope of this "Frequently Asked Questions" section. Contact an lemon law attorney in your area.

California State Lemon Law - The 20-year-old landmark legislation, California State Lemon Law, protects consumers against defective vehicles, has been named the best in the country by the Center for Auto Safety, a leading national consumer organization.

Florida Lemon Law - Recognizing that "new" doesn’t always translate into "problem-free," the Florida Legislature in 1988 revised a Flordia lemon law that makes car manufacturers responsible – under certain conditions -- for replacing defective vehicles or refunding consumers’ money. Commonly known as Florida Lemon Law, the Motor Vehicle Warranty Enforcement Act established arbitration boards throughout the state to hear and settle complaints between car manufacturers and owners. Consumers who are successful in Florida Lemon Law arbitration have received either refunds or replacement vehicles.

Lemon Law in New York - The New Car Lemon Law in New York provides a legal remedy for buyers or lessees of new cars that turn out to be lemons. If your car does not conform to the terms of the written warranty and the manufacturer or its authorized dealer is unable to repair the car after a reasonable number of attempts during the first 18,000 miles or two years, whichever comes first, you may be entitled to a full refund or a comparable replacement car.

Lemon Law Illinois - Has this ever happened to you...You buy a brand new car. But instead of hitting the open road in your new "dream machine," the vehicle is spending all of its time and your money at your local auto repair shop. If so, Illinois Lemon Law may be able to help.

Lemon Law Indiana - Indiana’s “Lemon Law” (The Motor Vehicle Protection Act), provides protection to consumers who purchase defective late model vehicles.

Lemon Law Michigan - For many of us, buying or leasing a vehicle is one of the largest consumer transactions we will ever make. Unfortunately, no matter how careful we are, a few of our shiny, new vehicles will turn out to be lemons. That’s why it is extremely important that we understand how these significant changes to Michigan’s Lemon Law affect our rights as consumers.

Ohio Lemon Law - The automaker or dealer must be given a reasonable opportunity to fix the problem, and if the problem is not corrected, you might be eligible for a refund or replacement. You are covered by this law even if the problem was discovered late in the protection period and the repair attempts extend beyond one year or 18,000 miles. Failure to comply with parts of Ohio's Lemon Law is a violation of Ohio's Consumer Sales Practices Act.

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