Over the past 26 years, it’s the most common question we receive, both on our website and through our 1 800 LEMON LAW hotline. “Am I driving a lemon car?” In this blog entry, we will look at the definition of a “lemon car” and provide steps on how you can use the Lemon Laws in your state to fight for your rights.
What is a lemon car?
A lemon car is a vehicle that suffers a significant non-conformity or problem that impairs its use, value, and safety that cannot be fixed despite a reasonable number of repair attempts.
How would you know if you are driving a lemon car?
If you are experiencing any issue with your car, be it a transmission slip or a water leak or perhaps a check engine light, it is imperative that you bring your car back to the dealer as soon as possible to have it repaired. Most Lemon Laws provide age and mileage parameters to determine if in fact a vehicle falls under the Statute. The Pennsylvania Lemon Law states you need to bring the vehicle into the shop in the first 12 months or 12,000 miles, whichever comes first. With the New Jersey Lemon Law, the problem needs to be reported in the first 24 months or 24,000 miles whichever comes first. So it is essential that you waste no time in bringing problems to your service adviser’s attention and making sure every repair is outlined with its own repair invoice which illustrates mileage in and date of service. Keep all invoices in a safe place.
Once the vehicle is either out of service an extended period of time, or back in the shop repeatedly for the same issue with a number of incomplete or incorrect repair attempts, you may have a lemon car and be entitled to remedy under State Lemon Laws.
What can I receive if I have a Lemon Car?
Many folks assume that these Lemon Laws are black and white, when it fact they are not. You must remember that you are suing a car company and asking for sizable remedy. In most situations, a claim must be filed before the car company will take action.
Potential outcomes for a Lemon Law claim could include a full repurchase, where the car company is giving you back all the money spent minus a small mileage offset as prescribed by law; an MSRP to MSRP swap, where the car company will give you a credit for the MSRP on your lemon car and that can be applied toward the MSRP of a brand new vehicle; or monetary compensation to reflect the diminished value of the car as a result of the non-conformity. If you receive monetary compensation, you keep the vehicle but the warranty remains in effect, the car is NOT branded a lemon, and the money received is non-taxable.
Do I have to pay to have a Lemon Law Lawyer represent me?
As we have discussed previously, Lemon Laws have fee-shifting provisions where if the plaintiff prevails, the manufacturer must pay all attorney fees and legal costs in addition to what the consumer receives. With most firms, if the client does not prevail for some reason, there is no cost. So if you feel like you have a lemon car, you really have nothing to lose–except your car that is.
What’s the next step if my lemon car is driving you crazy?
Feel free to check out your State’s law by clicking here or you can click here to submit a Lemon Law question to Kimmel and Silverman. The bottom line is that we pay a good deal of money for our cars and if they are leaving us stranded, the Lemon Laws can get us back on the road to recovery.