What are commonly referred to as lemon laws date back to 1975 when the Magnuson-Moss Warranty Act was written into federal law. Every state has enacted a version of the Act; the objective is to provide consumers with effective recourse in the event the new vehicle they purchased is a lemon. For a consumer to take full advantage of the law, he or she needs to have a basic understanding of what vehicles qualify and how to go about getting either a full refund of the original purchase price or another car that is substantially the same.
What Qualifies As A Lemon Vehicle?
Although there are differences in state lemon laws, for the vehicle to qualify, it must have one or more substantial defects that are covered by the warranty. The defect must have occurred within a specified number of days, months, or years or a specified number of miles after taking delivery. Although there are exceptions, in general, the laws apply to new vehicles only.
What Is A Substantial Defect?
There is a fine line between what the laws consider a “minor” defect and what is seen as a “substantial” defect. It is accepted in all versions of the lemon law that a “substantial defect” is one that impairs the safety, use, or value of the car and the problem is covered by the manufacturer’s warranty. The defect must occur within a specified period or a specified number of miles. The period is usually one or two years, and the number of miles is usually set from 12,000 to 24,000.
Your Recourse As A Consumer:
If your vehicle meets all the lemon law criteria in your state, you can opt for either a refund or a replacement vehicle. Each state has different rules, but generally, it is the consumer’s responsibility to notify the manufacturer and provide supporting evidence. If the manufacturer should balk, most states have an independent arbiter, or the consumer has the right to lodge a civil suit.
Lemon laws are different from state to state, to find out what they are in your state visit the Krohn & Moss, Ltd. Consumer Law Center®.
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