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What is a Lemon Law?

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  • Written By: Sherry Holetzky
  • Edited By: L. S. Wynn
  • Last Modified Date: 02 November 2016
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Lemon Laws were enacted to protect consumers from products that are plagued with serious defects. If an item cannot be satisfactorily repaired within a certain timeframe — usually within the warranty period - or if the item is not as good as new after so many repairs, it is considered a "lemon." Consumers who find themselves stuck with lemons can find redress through lemon laws. Each state has its own version of these laws and requires consumers to take certain actions in order to remedy the situation.

There are different lemon laws that cover a wide array of products. For example, if you purchase or lease a vehicle, which subsequently develops one or more defects within the first year of purchase, that vehicle would likely be covered by your state's lemon law regarding new vehicles. The defect must be significant, and must be something that severely affects the safety, operation, or value of your vehicle.

Like most laws, lemon laws differ by state, so examine local guidelines carefully to determine what action you need to take to protect your investment. A standard rule is that any vehicle that is not in working order for 30 days or more, or any vehicle that has required repair of the same defect on more than four occasions within the first year of purchase, is covered by a lemon law.

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Some manufacturers will attempt to convince you that you waived your rights when you signed the purchase or lease contract, because of a clause that was inserted into the agreement. Any such clause or waiver is invalid, and lemon laws still apply in full force.

The manufacturer may also try to persuade you to engage in mediation rather than going to court. You are not required to participate unless the process complies with rules set out by the Federal Trade Commission. In some states, you must use mediation before suing under lemon laws, if the process is certified by that state's Department of Transportation. Even then, you are not required to accept any settlement that does not satisfy you.

As with most legal matters, it is wise to consult with a licensed, competent attorney in your area that knows the details of the law. Many lemon law attorneys offer free consultations, and do not charge a fee unless you win the case. They even seek attorney's fees from the manufacturer, and the fees are usually granted to the prevailing party.

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SauteePan
Post 4

Oasis11- I did not know that. I know the BMW dealership offers limited warranties on its used or pre-owned cars. I have bought some of those cars used, but I never had a problem with my car breaking down or not functioning properly.

oasis11
Post 3

Anon12058- That is a great question; I think it depends if you are given an expressed written warranty which is usually the remaining warranty left from a manufacturer warranty or not.

If you are offered the expressed written warranty, than the lemon law applies. Another possibility is if the car dealer offered you a limited warranty.

Otherwise, used cars are usually sold as is. The only other recourse is if you can prove that the dealer offered you deceptive information.

Usually when buying a used car it is best to get everything in writing and have a mechanic that you trust look at the car to see if it is a worthwhile purchase.

This will save you time and give you the piece of mind of knowing that you made a sound financial decision by purchasing the car.

anon12058
Post 1

Does a car qualify as a lemon if you bought a used car?

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