Consumers used to have no choice but to allow the manufacturer or seller of a defective product an endless amount of repair attempts. State and federal “Lemon Laws” changed that, providing for damages and compensation to consumers with defective products that cannot be fixed within a “reasonable opportunity.” These laws differ from state to state and may not always apply, but if you know your lemon law rights and other consumer protection laws, you can help prevent yourself from ending up with a “less than perfect” product or vehicle that continues to need fixing or repairing with no end in sight.
For the lemon law to apply there must always be a warranty, whether it is an automobile or any other product. Products or vehicles purchased from a private seller after the warranty expired are not covered by federal or state lemon laws, though occasionally other consumer protection laws will apply. In the majority of cases the manufacturer, rather than the dealer, is the defendant. If you are a consumer with a lemon, you need to know your lemon law rights and that you qualify for Lemon Law vehicle protection whenever defects have not been fixed within a reasonable amount of repair attempts.
Most State Lemon Laws specifically apply to motor vehicles and require the manufacturer to refund your money or replace your vehicle if, during the first twelve to twenty-four months of ownership, your vehicle has suffered three to four repairs for the same problem or has been out of service by reason of repair more than thirty days. Although State Lemon Laws are generally limited to new vehicles, many states have enacted specific lemon statutes that protect purchasers of used vehicles and/or other consumer products such as Motor Homes and computers. Click here to read your State’s Lemon Law.
The federal Lemon Law often fills in where state lemon laws fall short, for example, by extending the lemon law period far past State law, making warrantors responsible for defects for up to four years after the factory warranty has expired. This federal statute generally provides cash compensation where the warrantor cannot make your product free from defects within a reasonable opportunity. Unlike State Lemon Laws, the Magnuson-Moss Warranty Act applies not just to vehicles but instead to all consumer products. Magnuson-Moss also creates strict requirement for warrantors when drafting warranties and disclosing warranty terms, thereby eliminating much of the confusing “doubletalk” in consumer warranties. Products that qualify under Mag-Moss include motor homes, ATV’s, motorcycles, trucks and cars, boats, major appliances and computers, as well as any demo or test drive vehicles that develop problems. Used vehicles may also be covered under this lemon law in some states, if it is still under the original manufacturer’s warranty. To read the Federal Magnuson-Moss Warranty Act, click here.
Steps You Can Take to Know Your Lemon Law Rights and Protect Your Investment
Lemon Laws often, but not always, require you to provide written notice of the defect to the warrantor and a final opportunity to fix the defects. These statutes also authorize warrantors to establish programs to resolve consumer complaints out of court. When you file for relief through these procedures, there will be filing deadlines and other requirements that will be specific. When filing, its smart to seek legal guidance and a free case consultation from a knowledgeable consumer attorney licensed in your state. Additionally, these programs are often wholly funded by the warrantors themselves, calling into serious question the credibility and impartiality of these mechanisms. You are generally only obligated to participate in such programs where the warrantor establishes the program in strict compliance with State and federal law. Before participating in any such program, you should consult an attorney as although such programs may be helpful, they may be harmful as well due to the bias towards the warrantor inherent in most of these mechanisms.
Because of the great lemon law vehicle rights these statutes provide you, sellers and manufacturers will often create obstacles to your enforcement of these rights and at times, will discourage you from enforcing your auto lemon law rights by providing false and misleading information. For example, a warrantor may tell you the time to enforce your State Lemon Law rights has expired without informing you of your lemon law warranty rights under the federal Lemon Law. Likewise, in an effort to make you accept your lemon, warrantors will often tell you that there is no problem with your product and that what you are experiencing is a “normal operating condition” or that there is no used vehicle lemon law or other misleading information about used cars and the lemon law. Always get a second – or third – opinion before believing that problem you know is there really isn’t.
Further, always ask for all Technical Service Bulletins (“TSB’s”) on your vehicle as these internal documents often prove your problem exists. Finally, and perhaps most important of all, always make sure to get documentation from the warrantor of each and every repair attempt whenever you retrieve your product back from the repair shop. Withholding these records from you is often the warrantor’s best way to prevent you from building your lemon case, so always insist on receiving a repair order. If the warrantor refuses to give you one, make your own by faxing or mailing the repair shop a letter memorializing the defect and date of the repair, and the warrantor’s refusal to provide you a repair order. To download our copyrighted Lemon repair log, click here.
What To Do Now To Enforce Your Lemon Law Rights
You have an expensive investment, its time to protect your rights and interests. Apathy and inaction is the exact situation that all manufacturers seek from consumers, and CarLemon.com believes pursuing the damages applicable laws make available helps not only yourself, but other consumers as well by showing big corporations they will be held responsible for making less than satisfactory products. If you think you have a Lemon, click here for a free lemon law case review, simply fax your repair records to 866-773-6152 or E-mail them to help@CarLemon.com. Your inquiry will be promptly responded to, at no cost or obligation to you.