My New Car Is a Lemon – Can I Sue the Dealership?
My New Car Is a Lemon – Can I Sue the Dealership?

When purchasing a used vehicle, the law considers it “as is,” meaning that if something immediately goes wrong, the buyer is financially responsible for repairs. This is known as “Buyer Beware,” and it’s why people should always have a used car checked out by an independent mechanic. However, if you’ve purchased a new vehicle only to discover significant issues, the buyer may have legal recourse.

For instance, when someone buys a new car, truck, or SUV only to discover a problem, they may have a lemon on their hands. Because the rules under the Lemon Law vary by state, it is essential for buyers to work with an attorney who specializes in this area of the law. That gives the buyer the best chance of getting recourse under consumer protection laws.

The Definition of a “Lemon”

In most states, a lemon is not just a vehicle under warranty but also one with a substantial defect that occurs after the purchase and within a specific timeframe. The law also defines a lemon as a vehicle that continually has issues even after a reasonable number of attempted repairs. A “reasonable number” depends on the laws in the state where the buyer purchased the car.

As for a “substantial defect,” the law considers it a problem that affects the value, use, or safety of the vehicle – something that is not caused by the buyer after the purchase. In most states, the express warranty must cover the defect. Also, the defect must seriously impact the expectation or function of the vehicle. For instance, a visor that keeps falling does not constitute a substantial defect, whereas, a steering problem that affects safety would.

If someone purchases a new vehicle with a host of issues, some minor and some major, the state determines what falls under the Lemon Law. As an example, some states considered a botched paint job a significant defect, while others do not. Regardless of the state, a significant defect must occur within a specific number of miles or timeframe.

Then, there is the issue of “reasonable attempted repairs.” Under the Lemon Law, the dealership that sold the new vehicle has a certain number of times to try to fix the problem. If the issue does not get fixed, the state declares the car a lemon. Depending on the state, the number of attempts could be one, four, or possibly more. In most states, a defect must get repaired within a specified number of days before the vehicle is deemed a lemon.

Fortunately, a federal law called the Magnuson-Moss Warranty Act provides protection to consumers on anything with a written warranty valued at more than $25. Along with giving consumers the right to recover attorney fees associated with a lawsuit, it prevents manufacturers from creating warranties considered grossly unfair.

Seeking Legal Help

If you purchased a new car only to have one or multiple significant issues, you need to contact a reputable attorney today. That individual will interpret the laws in your state and provide you with legal guidance on how to proceed, whether that entails going after the dealership or the manufacturer of the warranty. Either way, your attorney will act on your behalf to help you achieve a positive outcome.

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