Lemon Law 101: Is My Car A Lemon And What Can I Do About It?

August 04, 2014
By: Robert Silverman

Do you or someone you know have a vehicle that may be a lemon?

The bitter truth about Lemon Law is that most people aren’t fully aware of its purpose, or even how it can help them, until long after they could have filed their claim. Being that we get hundreds of calls every week on our 1 800 LEMON LAW hotline questioning the laws and how they work, we figure this is a great time for a refresher course on the statute, “Lemon Law 101.”

Although Lemon Law varies from state to state, as a general rule, a “lemon” is considered to be a car, truck, or motorcycle suffering from a “nonconformity.” This means that the vehicle has a problem — be it a defect or condition — that impairs its use, value, and safety. Typically, the issues experienced with a lemon cannot be repaired, even after multiple attempts by a manufacturer-authorized dealership.

So what if you think you have a lemon? Read on to learn how you can identify whether your car, truck, or motorcycle is a lemon, and what steps you need to take as a consumer.

1) Use the Lemon Checker.

If you’re pressed for time, the Lemon Checker is a quick, convenient means for figuring out whether you have a lemon on your hands.

It shouldn’t take more than a minute, and while legal counsel is highly recommended for all Lemon Law cases, the answers to these questions may help identify whether your claim falls within your state’s Lemon Law.

2) Know your state’s Lemon Law.

If you intend to pursue legal action under your state’s Lemon Law, you should learn more about it. To save you some time, we’ve listed a summary of each state’s Lemon Law  in one convenient place.

After you find your state, read the summary and see if your vehicle meets the requirements. If you’re even remotely unsure, seek qualified legal counsel to review your claim and determine whether you have a case.

Keep in mind that, under Lemon Law, your representation should be 100% cost-free, meaning there is no risk involved when you contact a lawyer regarding your Lemon Law claim.

3) Tally your service time.

If your car’s been out of service or in the shop for an extended period of time, you may have a lemon on your hands.

In a previous post, we discussed the impact a back-ordered part may have on your Lemon Law claim. Many people think state Lemon Law only applies to the number of repair attempts for a single issue, but that’s not always the case.

For example, if you’re a resident of Pennsylvania and your car is out of service for 30 calendar days or more, you may have a legitimate Lemon Law claim. In New Jersey, a car needs to be out of service for only 20 calendar days to be considered a lemon.

4) Know your rights as a consumer.

Visit Lemon Law rights FAQ for a rundown of your rights under the State Lemon Laws.

Even if your vehicle doesn’t fall within state Lemon Law, you may still be able to seek restitution through Federal Warranty Statutes such as the Magnuson Moss Warranty Act, as well as Unfair Trade Practice Laws created to protect buyers like yourself from fraudulent dealers.

5) Contact a reputable Lemon Law attorney.

A Lemon Law attorney can help determine whether your claim falls within Lemon Law regulations.

When pursuing your Lemon Law case with an attorney, be sure to consider your options. It’s essential that you work with an attorney who has a deep knowledge and understanding of your state’s Lemon Law. Likewise, there should be no cost to you when working with an attorney to resolve your Lemon Law claim.

Remember: You need an attorney who can provide you with answers backed by facts, keeping you involved and updated on current Lemon Law regulations. Know what to look for in a Lemon Law lawyer, and know how to ask your Lemon Law lawyer the right questions.

While there’s no surefire way to avoid buying a lemon, knowing how to identify a lemon under your state’s Lemon Law can help you determine when to consult an attorney and file your Lemon Law claim.  If there are any questions we failed to answer here, feel free to ask away! Safe driving!

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