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There are various federal and state laws that fall under the moniker of lemon laws. Lemon laws can also apply to mechanical devices other than vehicles. A lemon for most purposes, however, can be defined as a newer motor vehicle that has had a certain number of days out of service or a substantial problem that has not been fixed after a reasonable number of attempts.
Lemon law litigation can be complex in part because each case tends to be unique. An attorney who specializes in lemon law cases can help you determine if your case has merit. There are, however, general federal and state lemon laws you can refer to:
- The Magnuson-Moss Warranty Act—prevents manufacturers from drafting unreasonably unfair warranties and provides for the award of attorney fees.
- The Uniform Commercial Code (UCC)—although it leaves the definition of what a lemon is to the courts, the UCC gives the consumer the right to a replacement or refund.
- State Lemon Laws—most specify that a manufacturer must provide a replacement or refund for a new vehicle if a safety defect cannot be fixed within two attempts, other substantial defect within four attempts, or if the vehicle is out of service for 30 days within the first one to two years or 12,000 to 18,000 miles.
Used vehicles that are covered under the original manufacturer's warranty or that are sold "certified used" may still be covered under lemon laws. And rights afforded to consumers by lemon laws may actually exceed the warranties printed in purchase contracts. But these laws vary by state, and some state's lemon laws may not cover used or leased cars.
A vehicle that is sold “as is” may not be protected by lemon laws, but there are exceptions. If substantial misrepresentations were made prior to its sale, if the odometer was "rolled back", or if the vehicle was in an accident, a case for fraud could be made.
To protect yourself when buying a motor vehicle and to improve your chances of success in using lemon laws, you should:
- Ask the dealer for any manufacturer technical service bulletins when buying a new car
- Document the transaction
- Keep good records, including all repair receipts and documentation
- Provide proper notices in a dispute
- Use arbitration programs where required
If you suspect you have purchased a lemon, an attorney who specializes in lemon laws can review your vehicle's repair history and other important documents to determine if you have a case. You may be entitled to a replacement vehicle or a refund, and the seller may be required by applicable lemon laws to pay your attorney's fees.
If you or a loved one has been injured as a result of purchasing a defective vehicle, please contact us. We will help you find a lemon law attorney near you who can help you recover the financial compensation to which you are entitled.