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Lemon Law 101

What Consumers Need to Know When Pursuing a Lemon Law Claim

The Lemon Laws are consumer protection laws.  These sets of laws provide remedies to consumers who have purchased or leased motor vehicles that fail to meet standards of quality and performance.

Every state in the United States, including the District of Columbia, has written its own lemon law.  Although the criteria under the lemon laws vary state-by-state, the lemon laws basically require the auto manufacturer to repurchase or replace a vehicle that is unable to be repaired within a reasonable amount of time.  The lemon laws take into consideration the nature of the issues with the vehicle, the number of days out of service, and the number of repair attempts made.

If you suspect your vehicle is a lemon, there are a few things that you should do.

STEP 1: Present Your Vehicle to An Authorized Manufacturer Repair Facility for Repairs

The basis for a lemon law claim is whether the manufacturer was able to repair the vehicle within a reasonable amount of time.   This means that you need to allow the manufacturer the opportunity to attempt to repair your vehicle when you are experiencing issues with it.  If you experience issues with any of the warrantable components of your vehicle such as the engine, powertrain, or electrical systems, take it in for repairs to your local authorized manufacturer’s repair or service facility.

STEP 2: Make Sure Your Repair Invoices Accurately Report Your Concerns

When you present your vehicle for repairs to an authorized manufacturer repair facility, make sure your service technician (1) accurately reports the nature of your concerns on the repair invoices; and (2) accurately reports all of your concerns on the repair invoices.   If your service technician does not properly represent the nature of your concerns or fails to report all of your concerns on the repair invoice, make sure he/she updates the invoice so it is accurate.

STEP 3: Save a Copy of All of Your Documents

Do not rely on the local dealerships or the manufacturer to keep your repair invoices.  Always obtain a copy and keep it somewhere accessible and handy.  Make a digital copy of your repair invoices by taking a picture and emailing it to yourself.  Many dealerships go out of business which can make it very hard to get copies when needed.

STEP 4:  Present Your Lemon Law Claim Sooner Than Later

The lemon laws have their own respective statutes of limitations, which means you have a finite set of time within which to present a claim against the manufacturer.  Do not delay!  If you suspect your vehicle is a lemon, you should act.  The sooner you present your lemon law claim, the sooner your chances of potentially getting out of your lemon and into a different vehicle.

STEP 5: Hire an Experienced Lemon Law Attorney

The Lemon Laws are nuanced, can be rather complicated, and require a sophisticated level of understanding and application. Consumers do not need to hire a lemon law attorney to present a lemon law claim but doing so is highly recommended.  Hiring an experienced lemon law attorney can mean the difference between a successful lemon law claim and a sour deal.  

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