What is a Lemon?
Doesn’t start? Doesn’t run? Doesn’t take you where you need to go?
That about sums up a lemon car, a lemon truck, a lemon RV, or a lemon motorcycle.
Although lemon law differs from state to state, a lemon is generally defined as a vehicle that you’ve owned for less than two years that is defective. If the dealer or manufacturer either cannot repair your vehicle after numerous attempts or refuses to repair it, your vehicle is probably defective. If you’ve repeatedly brought your vehicle in for service for the same or similar problems, and it still isn’t fixed, you probably have a lemon.
If it’s the first year or two, you’re covered.
Although the laws vary by state, most new vehicles are covered by lemon laws. Typically, if you’ve owned your vehicle less than two years or have driven it less than 18,000 miles (whichever comes first), it’s covered by lemon law. In most states, the vehicles must be owned and operated by individuals and their families for personal use. Trucks, motorcycles, RVs, and off-road vehicles may also be covered by lemon laws.
If you’ve tried to get it repaired, lemon laws can work for you.
If you’ve taken your vehicle in multiple times to get the same problem fixed, it’s probably covered by lemon law. Although each state is different, most lemon laws require that you take you vehicle in for repair between two times (for serious safety defects) and four times (for other types of problems), or that the vehicle is out of service for 30 days.
Have you owned your vehicle for more than a year or two? You may still be covered.
If you’ve owned the vehicle longer than your state’s lemon law dictates, it may still be covered under other state laws and under the Magnuson-Moss Warranty Act, a federal law that covers any product having a warranty that costs more than $25.
Do you have a used lemon? Lemon laws may still protect you.
In many states, used vehicles are covered by used car lemon laws. Even if your state doesn’t have a specific used car lemon law, it probably has other laws that are designed to protect you.
Lemon Law Tips and Pointers
If you’ve been dogged with vehicle problems and think that you have a lemon car, lemon truck, lemon RV, or lemon motorcycle, you have rights under your state’s lemon law, as well as under federal law. To get the best possible settlement and the greatest compensation, it’s extremely helpful to keep thorough records. When you do, you can easily prove that you have followed the procedures necessary to classify your vehicle as a lemon. Here are some tips to get you started:
Keep a logbook. Whether you use a spiral bound notebook or a notes app on your phone, make a notation every time you speak to or visit the dealer or manufacturer. This proves that you have given them ample opportunity to fix the problem.
Write down every communication. In your log, write down the date and time, as well as the name, title, and phone number of the person to whom you spoke. Make an entry outlining the information and instructions you were given.
Keep track of your vehicle’s performance. In your log, note the times and dates when the problems occur.
Note the days your vehicle is unavailable. In your log, record the dates you are unable to use your vehicle, either because it isn’t in working condition or because it is in the shop for repair.
Keep repair records. This may seem obvious, but it’s important to keep the original paperwork of all repair and maintenance orders – even those that may not pertain to the recurring problem with your vehicle. Never leave your vehicle at the dealership without a copy of the work order.
Keep every piece of written correspondence. Hold on to a copy of every letter and email you send, as well as proof of delivery. Some states require that you contact the car manufacturer via certified mail, so it’s important to understand your state’s laws. Keep a folder with correspondence and delivery documentation.
Use the Web. If you want to know if your lemon car or lemon truck has a history of problems, check the Technical Service Bulletins (TSB) for your vehicle at nhtsa.gov. TSBs alert dealerships to defects and repairs for certain models. Request that the dealer’s service representative write your TSB request on your repair slip.
What are Your Rights?
If you own a lemon car, lemon truck, lemon RV, or lemon motorcycle, you have rights under your state’s laws, as well as rights under federal law. Although lemon laws vary from state to state, if your vehicle qualifies as a lemon, you may be entitled to:
- Have your vehicle replaced with an identical or comparable model
- Receive a refund of the price you paid for the vehicle, less a deduction for mileage
- Reimbursement for other damages or costs associated with your lemon vehicle
- Other damages, as well as punitive damages
The interests of dealers and manufacturers
If you own a lemon, you’ve probably experienced enormous frustration when you’ve taken your vehicle in for repair. You may have asked yourself why the dealer or manufacturer simply doesn’t give you a replacement vehicle or refund. While this would happen in a perfect world, manufacturers and dealers want to save money. As a result, most of them use delay tactics or make you jump through hoops in the hope that you will either go away or that the lemon law time period (which differs from state to state, but is usually between one and two years after purchase) will expire. This is the reason why lemon laws were enacted in the first place.
The role of a lemon law lawyer
Generally speaking, it’s best to have an attorney represent you in your lemon law claim. While you don’t need a lemon law lawyer in order to file a claim, having one will significantly increase the chances of getting the settlement you deserve. Vehicle manufacturers have powerful legal teams that are adept at avoiding lemon law claims, and often only obey the law when they’re faced with the threat of a lawsuit by lemon law attorneys. When they are, they usually settle very quickly, since they know that the cost of going to court will be much higher. For these reasons, it’s in your best interest to have an advocate who knows the law and works on your behalf.
Some states require that you go through arbitration before filing a lawsuit, while others mandate it only if the manufacturer’s arbitration process is certified, and still others leave the question of entering arbitration up to the consumer. In addition, you are not necessarily bound by the decision of the arbitrator. Even if you decide to enter arbitration, it is a good idea to have legal representation.
A good lemon law lawyer will work on your behalf to get the compensation to which you’re entitled, typically in the form of a settlement. Your lemon law attorney conducts a thorough investigation of your vehicle’s repair history, then presents the manufacturer with a statement outlining your case and demanding full recovery. More often than not, the manufacturer will settle; if not, though, your lemon law attorney should be prepared to sue the manufacturer or enter into arbitration.
The costs of a lemon law attorney
You shouldn’t have to pay a lemon law lawyer to handle your lemon law case. That’s because the law says that the manufacturer is responsible for paying the consumer’s attorney’s fees in successful lemon law claims. Most of the time, manufacturers pay legal fees as part of settling your claim. If your case goes to trial or arbitration, the court will order the manufacturers to pay attorney’s fees. Either way, you shouldn’t have to pay anything.
Turn your Lemon into Champagne
You have the power
Lemon Laws are putting power back into the hands of the person who owns a lemon car, lemon truck, lemon RV, or lemon motorcycle. These laws are on the books to protect people just like you who have bought a defective vehicle that the dealer cannot or will not repair. If you bought a lemon, you have recourse.
Your lemon auto could go away for free.
Lemon laws in most states, as well as the federal Magnuson Moss Act, give you a powerful and effective way to get rid of your lemon car, lemon truck, lemon RV, or lemon motorcycle – and receive compensation for your troubles. You also may be entitled to have your loan paid off, get your money back, and even receive reimbursement for out of pocket costs including towing, rental cars, and more.
The dealership and carmaker have attorneys. So should you.
If you think you have a lemon car, lemon truck, lemon RV, or lemon motorcycle, don’t count on the automaker’s good faith to repair or replace it. Contact Lemberg Law for a free, no-obligation case review. Otherwise, you could spend months wading through the manufacturer’s “owner loyalty hotlines,” “customer satisfaction departments,” or “quality care divisions” while waiting for your problem to be resolved. These departments rarely solve lemon law problems and don’t offer meaningful, immediate assistance.
Don’t put your problem on hold. Calling the dealer’s hotline may even delay solving your lemon law problem, since they hope that you will give up and sell the car or trade it and buy another. Indeed, that’s what they want because then the manufacturer doesn’t have to accept the financial obligation and disclosure requirements that go along with buying back a lemon vehicle.
It doesn’t cost a dime. Attorney’s fees are included in lemon law settlements, so there’s no reason to go it alone any more. In other words, the vehicle manufacturer will have to pay all of the legal costs associated with your lemon law claim. You know that the manufacturer will have a top-notch legal team to fight your claim. Shouldn’t you have the same kind of help on your side?
Get some answers.
If you think you have a lemon car, lemon truck, lemon RV, or lemon motorcycle, you deserve to be compensated. Lemberg Law can help you get justice – at no cost to you! Complete our form for a no-obligation case evaluation, or call toll free 855-301-2100.