New motor vehicles are required to meet certain performance, safety, and reliability standards. Nonetheless, consumers often find themselves constantly taking their vehicles back to the dealer for repairs. If your new car, SUV, truck, or other vehicle has been in for repeated repairs while under the manufacturer’s warranty, you may have a lemon on your hands.
Fortunately, you have powerful legal recourse under state lemon laws. Because these laws vary from state to state, and because pursuing a claim can be complicated, you should consult with an experienced lemon law attorney.
What is the Lemon Law?
Under state lemon laws, a new vehicle is considered a lemon if:
- A defect substantially impairs the performance, safety, or value of the vehicle
- The defect has not been repaired after a reasonable number of attempts
- The vehicle has been out of service for at least 30 days (not necessarily consecutively)
Not every defect qualifies a lemon, however. A vehicle with a glove compartment that doesn’t close or that has a flickering interior light is not considered a lemon. A substantial defect typically involves the engine, braking system, seat belts, headlights, or other components that impair the vehicle’s performance or safety.
In addition, the defect must occur within a certain time period, ranging from 12 to 18 months, or mileage, typically 18,000 miles, whichever comes first. Finally, lemon laws differ regarding the “reasonable number of repair attempts.” Generally, dealers are allowed 3 to 4 attempts to make repairs of performance defects. If the defect might cause serious injury or death, however, the dealer must be able to make the repair after one attempt.
Are used cars covered?
State lemon laws generally do not cover used cars. The only exception is for preowned vehicles under the original or an extended warranty and only as long as the owner reported the defect to the manufacturer within the first 12 to 18 months of ownership or 18,000 miles.
At the same time, used car consumers may be protected by the federal Magnuson-Moss Warranty Act, if the defect occurs after the 12 month/18,000-mile timeline. Under this law, a claim for damages can be filed for a defective used vehicle and the manufacturer may be held liable for failing to make the needed repairs.
Why You Need a Lemon Law Attorney
If you purchased or leased a new vehicle that has a defect the dealer cannot or refuses to repair, our lemon law attorneys can help. We know how to fight back against automakers that provide defective and unsafe vehicles to consumers.
When you consult with us, we will determine whether you have a valid lemon law claim by understanding the nature of the defect and learning about the vehicle’s repair history. If so, we will handle all the details of your claim:
- Collecting required documentation – the sales or lease contract, manufacturer’s warranty, repair receipts
- Investigating the nature of your complaint, the diagnosis of the problem by the dealer, and the repairs that were made or attempted
- Search the public record for reports of recalls or customer complaints
- Handle all communications with the dealer and manufacturer
While many cases can be resolved through an arbitration proceeding, we have the skills and resources to litigate lemon law claims in state court. If your claim prevails, the automaker may be required to either buy back or replace your vehicle.
Also, if we determine that the automaker willfully violated the lemon law, you may be entitled to civil damages. Finally, the lemon law allows you to recover attorneys’ fees and costs, which means that you will have any out-of-pocket legal expenses. Contact our office today to get started on your lemon law claim.