The United States has strong consumer protection laws. These laws encourage manufacturers to make their products as safe as possible – and free from defects. Vehicles are one of the most important consumer goods subject to these laws. Not only is a vehicle the largest purchase that many consumers will ever make, but it can also be the most dangerous. Defective vehicles are responsible for thousands of injuries and deaths every year. The attorneys at TorkLaw work hard to enforce consumer protection laws specific to vehicles (lemon laws). You do not have to be stuck with a defective car. Contact TorkLaw today to learn what options are available to you.
What Are Lemon Laws?
“Lemon laws” are consumer protection laws specific to vehicles. The Magnuson Moss Warranty Act is a federal law that establishes rules for new car warranties. Consumers are also protected by state “lemon laws” written into local statutes. To qualify as a “lemon,” a vehicle must have a substantial effect. The manufacturer must then be notified of the defect and given the opportunity to correct it. State lemon laws limit this opportunity to a “reasonable number” of repair attempts. Some state statutes also define the number of calendar days that a vehicle can be out of service. Once the manufacturer has reached the limit of repair attempts or days of service, the vehicle can be considered a lemon. At this point, the consumer has lemon law rights and options for how to deal with the vehicle.
What is a “substantial defect?”
A “substantial defect” is one that impairs the vehicle’s use, value, or safety. This standard considers all the circumstances of a defect. Peeling paint might not be a safety issue, for example, but it significantly reduces the Blue Book value of a car. On the other hand, a minor paint chip might not reduce the value of the car or impair its safety. The lemon lawyers at TorkLaw can help determine whether your vehicle’s defect qualifies as a “substantial defect” under your local lemon law.
What is a “reasonable number” of repair attempts?
Some states have lemon laws that clearly specify the number of repair attempts a manufacturer can make. In other states, the number of repairs is left open to interpretation. The number of attempts that are considered “reasonable” can depend on many factors. In general, the more dangerous a defect is, the fewer repair attempts a manufacturer will get. Consult with our legal team to determine how many repair attempts might be considered reasonable in your specific circumstances. By hiring a lemon law lawyer early on, you will show the dealership that you take your lemon law rights seriously and will not allow them to waste time or repair attempts to correct the defect in your car.
What Are My Rights Under a Lemon Law?
Once a vehicle qualifies as a lemon, the owner has options for dealing with the defective vehicle. The options available to you can vary (depending on which state the vehicle was purchased and registered in). Typically, these options include:
- Returning the defective vehicle for a full refund
- Requiring the dealer to replace the defective vehicle with one of equal or better value (for example, a newer model year)
- Allowing the dealer to finish repairing the defect
Are My Lemon Law Rights Triggered By a Recall?
While a recall may indicate that your vehicle is a lemon, it does not automatically trigger your rights under lemon laws. A recall usually establishes that your vehicle does have a substantial defect, but it still might be necessary to prove this defect in court. You must also give the manufacturer the required number of repair attempts before your car can be considered a lemon. These requirements apply whether a recall has been issued or not. Though a recall does not automatically trigger lemon law rights, it is an important indicator that you might have a lemon and that it is time to consult with a lemon lawyer about your legal rights.
Do I Still Have Lemon Law Rights Even If My Vehicle Hasn’t Been Recalled?
A recall does not automatically trigger lemon law rights, but it is also not a necessary step to exercise your lemon law rights. Your lawyer can provide legal notice to the dealer and prove that a “substantial defect” exists whether a recall has been issued or not. Again, you must allow the dealer the opportunity to correct the defect. After this allowance takes place, your lemon law rights apply. If you notice a problem with your vehicle, check to see if a recall has already been issued. If not, it is important to contact a lemon lawyer as soon as possible, so they can begin investigating your case and gathering evidence of the defect. Our experienced lemon law team can also help you choose the best option for dealing with a defective vehicle that cannot be repaired.