When Life Gives You Lemon Laws
After lots of saving, shopping around, and test driving, you finally have that long-awaited new car. Whether it’s brand new or just “new to you,” purchasing a car is exciting. But let’s say that within its first week on the road, your new car suddenly stalls at a red light. “It’s okay,” you think. “My car is still under warranty.” But after several more stall-outs, and several trips to the dealership, no one can find the problem. So are you stuck with this car? Not necessarily.
You may have a lemon on your hands.
What Is A Lemon Car?
The term “lemon” refers to a vehicle (usually new) that has been found to be defective after it has been purchased. This specific type of defect is usually due to an error by the vehicle manufacturer in design or production. If there is a known defect that requires repair or recall, the manufacturer will put out a service bulletin on the vehicle. (Want to know if your car has a service bulletin on file? Check the NHTSA database and search for your car. You can also check your car manufacturer’s website to see if there are any bulletins on your vehicle.)
What Is a Lemon Law?
Lemon laws exist to protect consumers from being stuck with a defective vehicle. Lemon laws only cover vehicles that have substantial defects that significantly impair the use or safety of the vehicle, or negatively affect its value. If a vehicle is found to be a “lemon,” the manufacturer is obligated to replace it with a new or comparable vehicle, or to refund the full purchase price.
How Do I Know If My Vehicle Qualifies As a Lemon?
Just as each state sets its own car insurance laws (as you already know if you’ve been shopping for the cheapest car insurance to meet state minimums), each state also has different lemon laws. To find out about the laws in your state, start by checking the Better Business Bureau’s list of lemon laws by state, which includes details like each state’s lemon law summary and participating manufacturers. Many states’ DMV websites also list these rules and include state-specific resources for drivers who are dealing with lemon vehicles.
Is There a Lemon Law for Used Cars?
Most states’ lemon laws apply only to new cars; however, there are a few states that have lemon laws that cover used cars. Again, you’ll need to check your specific state’s laws to be sure.
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Have you had problems with a lemon car? How did you handle it? Let us know in the comments below!