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Car Lemon Laws: Know Your Rights!
Think your Car is a Lemon? Your State may agree, but maybe not to your liking. Nearly all State Lemon Law Statutes are similar to the Federal Magnuson-Moss Warranty Act which makes breach of warranty a violation of federal law. All States have enacted their own Warranty Acts and many States have enacted specific Statutes that pertain to Automobile Warranties. You will need to research your particular States statutes to see what your rights are.
What is a Lemon?
A vehicle that continues to have a defect that substantially impairs its use, value, or safety. Generally, if the car has been repaired 4 or more times for the same Defect within the Warranty Period and the Defect has not been fixed, the car qualifies as a Lemon. All States differ so you should consult the State Statutes for your particular State.
Do I have a Lemon?
If the paint is peeling, the light switch came out when you pulled on it, the car makes "funny noises" but otherwise drives just fine, then No, you do not have a Lemon. If the brakes don't work, the car won't go into reverse gear, it won't start on cold mornings or hot afternoons, the rear door opens all by itself, or the car chugs along at 30 mph when it should be going 50 mph, then Yes, you may have a Lemon. Providing you've given the manufacturer an opportunity to repair the defect.
You may have a Lemon, but if you do nothing to protect your Consumer Rights, such as documenting your Repairs and allowing the Manufacturer a chance to fix the problem(s), you lose all rights under the various State Warranty Acts.
Do I Need a Lawyer?
The answer depends upon which State you Purchased or Registered your car in. In some States and with proper documentation, you simply file a Complaint. In other States, you will need to hire an Attorney.
Is a Used or Leased Car Protected?
It depends upon which State the car was purchased or leased in. Some states include used and leased cars in their Lemon Law statutes. Some states have separate laws for used vehicles.
Some states provide protection only for new cars. See the State Statutes for your particular State to determine what is covered. If you have a defective used car, leased car, or a car used for business purposes and your State Lemon Law does not cover these vehicles, you may still have recourse under the Uniform Commercial Code and the Federal Magnuson-Moss Warranty Act (providing you were given a written warranty). Consult with an Attorney that specializes in this area.
Tips to Protect Your Investment
If you think your car is a lemon and dont know where to go, check with these sources to learn more about what you can do to protect your consumer rights.
Council of Better Business Bureaus, Inc. (800) 955-5100
Local and State Consumer Affairs Offices
Check your local phone book under "Government". These offices run arbitration programs and are often given high marks by consumer groups.
A web site that offers advice and legal referrals by state of attorneys specializing in lemon law rights.
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