Archive for December, 2009
Thinking you might have a lemon car? Every state has its own lemon law and may differ on the exact definition of a lemon car. Along with state lemon laws, there is a federal lemon law manufacturers must comply with. If your vehicle has defects or conditions that make it unsafe, non-usable, or otherwise diminish the value of the vehicle and they have not been repair within a reasonable number of attempts, you may have a lemon car or truck. It is your right to receive a copy of all all repair orders and your responsibility to keep track of the number of attempts. It is important to bring your vehicle in for repair as soon as a defect arises.
Remember, there is more to a vehicle being a lemon car or truck than just having a defect. Most states require you to give the manufacturer or dealer a reasonable number of attempts to repair the defect. The number of repair attempts varies per state, but there are some general guidelines that apply to most.
- If the defect is likely to cause serious injury or death, some states only require one unsuccessful attempt to fix the defect.
- When the defect or condition is not that severe, but still substantially impairs the use, value or safety of the vehicle, state laws vary from three to four unsuccessful attempts.
- Sometimes there is a time limit, such as if a vehicle is out of service for thirty days, it can be considered a lemon car or truck.
If your meets one of the above, the first thing you should do is give the manufacturer or dealer a chance to comply with your state’s lemon law. Normally, this means they are required by the lemon law to either replace the vehicle or refund the purchase price of the vehicle. In most states, they may deduct the usage costs. If the manufacturer does not follow through with this, it is time to consult with a lawyer in your state.
Purchasing a used car can be stressful because it does not come with the same guarantees as a new car. Of course it is always best when considering a used vehicle to check out its history and find out how it was taken car of. Check to see if it was in any accidents and find out what repairs have been done to it. It is also a good idea to have a reliable mechanic inspect it as well.
One or more of the following procedures may prove to be useful in discovering more information about a used car prior to purchasing it:
- Get a vehicle history report at www.carfax.com or call 1-888-4-Car Fax;
- Take the vehicle to a body shop mechanic to determine if is was ever in a major accident;
- Have your Insurance Company run your Vehicle Identification Number (VIN) on their computer (may be called a C.L.U.E. report) to see if an accident claim was ever made with another insurance company; and/or
- Go to an authorized dealer and have them check the computer to see what information they have on past repairs or prior accidents.
Even when all the homework has been done and the vehicle has been purchased, problems may arise. The only way the federal Lemon law can apply to used cars is if the problems arise under the remainder of the manufacturer’s warranty period or possibly under an extended warranty. This is sometimes known as an express warranty. You may also have a claim against the dealer if a limited warranty was sold with the vehicle by the dealer. You may also have a claim under what is known as an implied warranty, but only under certain conditions.
Sometimes consumers are lied to, misled or taken advantage of in connection with the purchase of their vehicles. In these instances, there are many State and Federal laws to protect you which can be used to assist victims of fraudulent and deceptive sales practices.
If you purchased a used car that is giving your problems, make sure to document all repairs and keep a history on the vehicle. Make sure to notify seller as soon as a defect arises as the warranty period may be very short on a used car. If the defect is not being repaired in a timely manner, you may have recourse under these lemon laws.
Compensation with used cars is normally in the form of cash to compensate the consumer for the diminished value of the vehicle and incidental expenses. If the dealer or manufacturer does not comply, it may be wise to seek the advice of an experienced lemon law attorney.