A Lemon Law is a law that protects buyers when they purchase an automobile (or another vehicle such as a truck or motorcycle) that fails to meet expectations. When a car doesn’t perform as promised, the lemon law can be used to help customers get a refund or replacement.
Lemon laws can apply to many different products, but it’s mostly used for new cars, trucks, or motorcycles. Customers may use lemon law when they experience problems with a covered product and the issues have not been or cannot be corrected. Generally, Lemon law requires the manufacturer or seller to repair, replace, or refund the product cost to the customer.
Sellers generally do the right thing for their customers and want to settle issues to satisfy their customers. Especially in today’s world,, where information can spread far and wide on the internet, businesses want to protect their reputation and their customer ratings. However, vehicle manufacturers and dealers are enormous with a lot of resources; some will do whatever it takes to win. In this case, customers may need to take more aggressive action.
When you buy something, it’s a contract or agreement between you and the seller, so it’s essential to document the purchase and any problems you experience. If you start having problems and you think you have a lemon, there are some steps you need to take to help your case. To undoubtedly win a lemon case, there are three critical steps you need to take:
- Keep detailed records
- Provide the correct notice
- Use arbitration when required
- Keep your purchase agreement or contract in a safe place. You may want to make a copy of it to refer to but keep the original documents protected. You
- Date of the first problem you experience. In addition to the date, including the time, what happened, and if you know what caused the problem.
- Create a new record every time something happens, even if it’s the same problem
- Actions the seller took to fix the problem.
- If the issue was resolved
- Did the same problem reoccur?
- Document all communication, date & time, who you spoke with, the reason for the contact, outcome of the communication
- Keep all correspondence, including text messages, emails, social media posts/messages, and voicemail.
- Keep the call logs on your phone or bills showing the calls.
Provide Correct Notice
If you believe you bought a lemon, you must contact the seller and allow them to repair or correct the problem. There are specific requirements regarding the number of attempts the seller has to correct a substantial defect. The definition of a substantial defect can vary from state to state. Still, the following issues generally require the vehicle to be refunded or replaced:
- Safety Defects – the vehicle isn’t fixed after one repair attempt
- Other Serious Defects – the vehicle isn’t fixed after three or four repair attempts
- Time in Shop – the car is in the shop for repair for substantial defects for more than a specified number of days within one year
If you and the seller can’t settle the issue, you may be required to participate in arbitration, depending on the state requirements. Arbitration is a means to settle a dispute without going to court. The case is presented to an unbiased third party. The two parties present their side of the issue and agree in advance to the arbitrator’s decision.
Some additional details to keep in mind if you believe you’ve bought a lemon and are not getting satisfaction from the seller. If you purchased a vehicle in a different state than the one you live in, you might have to file a suit in the state where the vehicle was purchased. This may involve additional travel expenses. Lemon laws can vary significantly from state to state. This blog covers the general information needed to build a case if it’s necessary to file a lawsuit. An outcome in your favor will depend on several factors, and no one can predict the outcome. If you have a true lemon, do your due diligence in working with the seller and documenting all the actions. Then contact an expert for advice and any additional steps.