What Happens If Your New Car Is A Lemon?

What recourse do you have if the new car you buy is among the one percent of new cars built every year that turns out to have problems that simply cannot be fixed? Fortunately, Lemon Laws have been enacted by every state, although the laws vary between jurisdictions they all have the same goal, to ensure that consumers that get a lemon have access to recourse.

What is a lemon?

As noted, every state treats the lemon laws a little differently but basically, to qualify as a lemon the car must:

  • Have a “substantial” defect which is covered by the manufacturer’s warranty

  • The defect must have occurred within a specific time or mileage frame

  • The manufacturer must be given a “reasonable” number of chances to fix the defect

You will note that two words are emphasized; substantial and reasonable; it is here where conflicts can often occur.

What is a substantial defect?

It is a problem, covered by warranty, which has a negative impact on the use, resale value or safety of a car. Using this definition, faulty brakes would certainly qualify while a bad catch on the trunk lid would not.

If the defect is the result of abuse, the lemon law will not help the car owner.

What is a reasonable number of attempts?

You cannot claim the car is a lemon when the problem first occurs, you must give the manufacturer or his authorized agent, usually the dealer, a reasonable number of chances to fix the problem. Reasonable is debatable but in most states the following standard applies:

  • Serious defect which jeopardizes the safety of the occupants; one try and if not fixed, the car is a lemon.

  • Not a serious safety issue; after three or four attempts and the problem is not fixed, the car is a lemon

There is also a time limit set in most states; if the car is in the shop for a set number of days, usually 30, and the problem is not fixed the car meets the definition under state lemon laws.

As the lemon laws vary from one state to another it is always best that you visit the web site of Lemon Law America and check the law where you live.

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