Archive for April, 2010
For most car owners, having their car repaired at the dealership where they bought it brings the confidence that their vehicle will be responded to with the greatest care. But while most car dealerships may value their customers as more than business prospects; when it comes down to either doing right by the customer or doing right by an auto manufacturer’s profit margins, many dealerships show whose side they’re really on, and it isn’t the customer’s.
A perfect example of this fact can be seen in the case of lemon cars, where customers should receive either a free replacement vehicle or a full refund of the vehicle’s purchase price. But instead of discussing the option of a replacement or a refund, dealerships sometimes falsify a lemon car’s repair record to make it seem as if it were brought in for a different problem every time. And there are also tales of dealerships stringing customers along until they drive their vehicle to where it no longer qualifies as a lemon car under state lemon law due to its mileage.
If you drive an often-repaired vehicle that suffers from the same symptoms prior to each new repair, your dealership may not be telling you the truth about your cars repair needs. If you find yourself in this position, you should contact a lemon law attorney and discuss your eligibility for a replacement vehicle or a refund. While some car dealerships are honest, make no mistake; many dealerships are on the side of the manufacturer when it comes to lemon cars.
If you own a new car that suffers from a significant defect that isn’t resolved by three or more repair attempts, chances are that your vehicle will qualify as a lemon under your state’s lemon laws. In most states, a vehicle qualifies as a lemon if it undergoes a certain number of unsuccessful repairs before it’s been driven for a certain number of miles (usually less than 18,000). In addition, a vehicle within the proper mileage range can instantly qualify as a lemon if it suffers a defect that jeopardizes the safety of the driver and/or other drivers. But what you do if you own a problematic used vehicle or a type of vehicle that isn’t covered by your state’s lemon laws in the first place?
Unlike state lemon laws, The Federal Lemon Law covers any personal vehicle that is still under the manufacturer’s warranty, regardless of mileage. Because many states don’t cover leisure vehicles like motorcycles, scooters, boats and ATVs, their owners seek compensation under The Federal Lemon Law in the event that a vehicle suffers a persistent defect that can’t be resolved within a reasonable period of time or reasonable number of attempts. And the same is true of some used cars. If you own a used lemon car that’s still under the manufacturer’s warranty or that began suffering its current problem while still under the manufacturer’s warranty, you can receive compensation under The Federal Lemon Law.
In terms of compensation, Federal Lemon Law differs from state lemon law in one basic respect: Under state lemon law, vehicle owners are entitled to receive either a replacement vehicle of similar make free of charge or a full refund of the vehicle’s sale price minus a mileage based allowance. Under Federal Lemon Law, consumers are entitled to a cash award in the form of either a settlement from the manufacturer or a court award, but are not entitled to a free replacement vehicle.
If a car repeatedly experiences mechanical troubles that send it to the repair shop, chances are that its owner will colloquially refer to it as a lemon car. But while the term “lemon” has become part of our lexicon for referring to faulty machines, there’s a distinct difference between a so-called lemon car and a car that legally qualifies as a car. To qualify as a lemon, a car must meet either state lemon law requirements or Federal Lemon Law requirements. When it does, its owner is entitled to compensation. Under state lemon law, consumers can choose to receive either a free replacement vehicle or a refund of the vehicle’s purchase price less a mileage based allowance. Under Federal Lemon Law, consumers receive a cash award but not a free replacement vehicle or a full refund.
There is no specific problem that a car must experience to qualify as a lemon. As long as the problem significantly affects the vehicle’s use, value or safety, it counts as a defect that qualifies a car as a lemon. Under state lemon laws, a car must undergo a certain number of unsuccessful repairs (usually about 3) for the same problem within a certain range of miles (usually less than 18,000) after its original delivery date. As a result, many cars that are still under warranty and experience a consistent defect are not covered by state lemon laws. They are, however, covered by The Federal Lemon Law, which is established by the Magnuson-Moss Warranty Act. Federal Lemon Law covers all personal vehicles that are still under warranty, regardless of their mileage.
Every state has a body of statutes known as lemon laws that protect consumers from owning vehicles that fail to live up to the manufacturer’s original warranty. Under state lemon law, a vehicle qualifies as a lemon when it undergoes a certain number of unsuccessful repairs for the same problem within a certain range of miles after its original delivery date, meaning that owners of used lemon cars typically aren’t covered by state lemon laws. However, if you own a used lemon car and your state’s lemon laws don’t cover used vehicles, you still have a right to compensation under the Magnuson-Moss Warranty Act, which is often referred to as the “Federal Lemon Law”.
Driving a used lemon car can feel the same as driving a new lemon car, but with one exception: its “used” status often results in its owner having it endlessly repaired, thinking that the window of mileage to pursue a lemon law claim has expired. Under the Magnuson-Moss Warranty Act, a car can qualify as a lemon at any point during its warranty. For example, if your used car is 86,000 miles into its 100,000-mile warranty and experiences a problem that can’t be fixed within a reasonable period of time or reasonable number of attempts, the act allows you to receive compensation.
In terms of compensation, the biggest difference between state lemon laws and the Magnuson-Moss Warranty Act is that the latter does not entitle consumers to full refund of a vehicle’s purchase price or a free replacement vehicle. Instead, vehicle owners receive a cash award and may return the lemon vehicle on their own. The act also allows consumers to recover attorney fees from the manufacturer.
State lemon law and Federal Lemon Law are principally the same: they exist to protect consumers against owning products that fail to live up to the manufacturer’s warranty, establishing rights and remedies that allow consumers to recover all or a significant portion of their investment. From a consumer perspective, the most significant difference between state lemon law and Federal Lemon Law regards reimbursement for lemon products. While state lemon law entitles consumers to receive either a free replacement product or a refund of the defective product’s purchase price, Federal Lemon Law only entitles consumer’s to receive a cash award.
Another difference between state and Federal Lemon Law is that the latter is typically less restrictive of the circumstances under which a product can qualify as a lemon. For example, whereas state lemon law establishes that a consumer vehicle must undergo a certain number of repairs within a certain range of miles after its original delivery date to achieve lemon status, Federal Lemon Law states that, as long as a consumer vehicle is under the manufacturer’s original warranty, it can qualify as a lemon. Concerning vehicles, a third major difference between state and Federal Lemon law is that Federal Lemon law covers certain types of vehicles that lemon laws in many states do not, including: motorcycles, mobile homes, speed boats and used cars.
Although manufacturers are usually motivated to settle lemon law cases out of court for financial reasons, reaching a favorable settlement usually requires the aid of a lemon law attorney. Because only attorneys can file lawsuits, simply displaying to a manufacturer that you are aware of lemon laws usually won’t motivate a settlement. Due to the prevalence of Federal Lemon Law cases, many attorneys that concentrate in state lemon law are also skilled in the Federal Lemon Law.
If you own an ATV that fails to live up to its warranty despite being repaired for the same problem numerous times, chances are that your state’s lemon laws won’t entitle you to receive a replacement ATV or a refund of your ATV’s purchase price. While some states have lemon laws that apply to alternative types of motor vehicles such as speed boats, motorcycles and ATVs, the lemon laws in some states only apply to personal trucks, cars, SUVs, etc. However, the Federal Lemon Law does cover alternative types of motor vehicles, including ATVs.
The Magnuson-Moss Warranty Act, also known as the Federal Lemon Law, covers all manufacturer warranted consumer products that cost $25 or more, the key being that a product is a consumer product. Although state lemon law entitles owners of lemon vehicles to a free replacement vehicle or a refund of the vehicle’s purchase price less a mileage based allowance, The Federal Lemon Law entitles lemon owners to receive a cash award but not a buyback. As a result, the vehicle’s owner may either keep the vehicle or attempt to sell it or trade it in.
Because Federal Lemon Law entitles successful litigants to recover attorney fees from a product’s manufacturer, most manufacturers prefer to settle lemon cases before they proceed to trial. As with any other legal case, winning a Federal Lemon Law case usually depends on hiring an experienced attorney that concentrates in lemon law type cases, including Federal Lemon Law cases.