If you recently purchased a vehicle that keeps having the same problem over and over, despite numerous repair attempts, you might have a lemon on your hands.
And, you might be entitled to a replacement or refund.
What is a Lemon?
Simply put, a lemon is a defective vehicle (usually purchased new) that can’t be repaired or continues to malfunction.
Each state has its own legal definition of a lemon, but generally in order for your vehicle to be a lemon:
- The vehicle must still be under warranty.
- You must have taken the vehicle in for repairs for the same problem a certain number of times.
- The vehicle must have been inoperable for a certain number of days (whether they’re consecutive depends on your state).
What Are Lemon Laws?
A lemon law is designed to protect someone who’s purchased a lemon from getting stuck with an inoperable and possibly dangerous vehicle.
Generally, a lemon law has one of three specific goals:
- Ultimately repair the lemon.
- Replace the lemon.
- Refund the owner.
The process to get repairs, a replacement, or a refund depends on your state’s lemon law, but you can expect to:
- Contact the manufacturer and discuss the policies on repairs, replacements, and refunds.
- Contact a lemon law attorney, if the manufacturer won’t take action.
- Enter into arbitration with the manufacturer.
- Attend the hearing date with documentation of your warranty, repair attempts, and time spent inoperable.
- File a lawsuit (if arbitration doesn’t work out). At this point, if you don’t already have a lemon law attorney, it’s time to get one.
Of course, this course of events is based on the worst-case scenario: Your manufacturer not fixing or replacing the vehicle, or agreeing to refund you.
Do Lemon Laws Cover Used Vehicles?
Before buying a used vehicle (especially during a private sell), check on how your state’s lemon laws apply to pre-owned vehicles.
Some states, like New York, have lemon laws for used vehicles purchased from dealerships; other states, like Florida, don’t.
Order a Vehicle History Report
Because it’s rare to find lemon laws that cover used cars purchased during private sales, order a vehicle history report (VHR) for any private purchase you’re considering.
As the name suggests, a vehicle history report tells you everything about a particular vehicle’s history.