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Car Lemon Laws
When you visit a major city, one of the first things you likely see or hear is the public transportation system. Taxis, buses, subways, and trains abound in big cities. To the outside observer it would seem that Americans do not need to own their own vehicles anymore, particularly if they live or work in a big city. This couldn't be farther from the truth in the minds of most Americans. In spite of the abundance of public transportation options and the high price of fuel, Americans love the freedom that having their own car gives them. For those who don't live in a big city, a car is a necessity just to get to and from work.
If you ask the average consumer, he or she would likely prefer to buy a new car, not a used one. A new car does not come with years of wear and tear that could result in problems down the road. However, the average consumer would also admit that the cost of a new car is prohibitive. Thus, many turn to the used car dealer, resulting in the fact that used car dealers bring in billions of dollars every year. Sadly, so do the automobile repair shops.
Buying a used car is a scary endeavor. No matter how reputable the dealer is where you purchase your new used car, there are always things that can be overlooked. Even if you take your car to an excellent mechanic, he might miss something obvious. That is why you always have a nagging fear about buying a lemon car.
We know that we take a risk when we buy a used car, but when we go to a dealer we sometimes get a sense of security simply because we purchase from a dealership. Of course, minor problems in any used car are to be expected, especially if the previous owner did not get the routine maintenance done, such as the necessary oil changes. Other small problems, like having a flat tire, are considered part of owning a vehicle. However, when you purchase a used car and have multiple problems with it, this is an entirely different story. Also, having a major repair shortly after buying a used car is a good sign you may have picked up a lemon.
A lemon is considered a car that has something wrong with it that makes it unsafe to drive. In addition, that defect would have been repaired tree to four times in the warranty period for the car to be considered a lemon. Every state has a law about lemon cars, known as a lemon law. These laws are designed to protect consumers against unscrupulous dealers and manufacturers who are not responsible when designing and building their vehicles.
While the lemon law in every state is slightly different, most states base their lemon laws on the Federal Magnuson-Moss Warranty Act. This act is now federal law and was passed in 1975 by Congress. It deals with the warranties on different products, including cars. Under this law, manufactures and sellers alike must provide consumers with detailed, written explanations of warranties.
Most state lemon laws will cover the type of vehicle, the number of repairs, and the length of the warranty. If you look at the lemon laws in Virginia, for example, you will find that any vehicle that had three repairs or was not functional for thirty days within the warranty timeframe (18 months) was considered a lemon. Idaho has a lemon law that covers a warranty period of 2 years or 24,000 miles, allows four repairs or thirty days without being functional. Obviously, these laws vary quite a bit from state to state.
If you think you might have a lemon vehicle, it is important to know what the law in your state is. Contact your state department that handles motor vehicles and find out for yourself what the particular law says. If you determine after studying the law that you do have a lemon, you may have to head to court or arbitration. Make sure you have kept records of the repairs and warranty information. Gather these records and find a lawyer who will represent your case if needed.
If you have a dispute with the car's manufacturer because it is under the manufacture's warranty, take your case to court. With the help of your lawyer, you can recover damages incurred because of this vehicle. If your dispute is with the dealership, you may not be able to go to court depending on what state you live in. You may have to use an arbitration board to resolve the dispute. If this is the case, you will not need a lawyer. Hiring a lawyer can be quite expensive, so it is best avoided whenever possible. By keeping careful documentation of the repairs and problems the car has had, you will make the process of going to court or arbitration much less stressful and time consuming.