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When you become the very first owner of a car, truck, SUV or motorcycle, you're likely spending the extra money for a new vehicle because you want something that is good looking and that runs with little or no problems. But, sometimes, that new car smell is masking a whole world of issues, and your "sure thing" turns out to be a junker. So then what do you do?
In Connecticut, you have the Lemon Law to protect you. Basically, the law ensures an arbitration process in the case of an ongoing complaint about a new vehicle that does not conform to the warranty, even with multiple repair attempts.
In order to qualify, you must meet the following requirements:
- You must own or lease a new vehicle that does not conform to the manufacturer's warranty.
- The vehicle must have substantial defects affecting its use, safety, or value.
- The vehicle must have undergone at least 4 attempts for repair.
- The vehicle must be within the first 2 years of its original delivery date to the owner or within the first 24,000 miles on the odometer (whichever period ends first).
To file a complaint under the Lemon Law, follow these steps:
- Mail the application and a check for $50 to:
- Department of Consumer Protection
- 165 Capitol Ave.
- Hartford, CT 06106
- The Department of Consumer Protection will try to rule on your application within 5 business days.
If the department rules in your favor, you will be eligible for either a new replacement vehicle, or a refund of the contract price, plus damages and costs, but with a mileage deduction. If the department does not rule in your favor, the decision is final. The only option then available is to pursue litigation in civil court. You should do your research on automobile recalls and, at some time in the process, you may want to consult with an attorney who specializes in Lemon Law cases.
Connecticut does not have the same type of binding arbitration process to protect consumers purchasing used vehicles. However, the state does require dealers selling used vehicles to provide a warranty under certain conditions:
- If the vehicle is less than 7 years old and costs $3,000 or more, it must be protected by a warranty.
- If the vehicle costs less than $5,000, the warranty is good for 1,500 miles or 30 days, whichever comes first.
- If the vehicle costs more than $5,000, the warranty is good for at least 3,000 miles or 60 days, whichever comes first.
During the warranty period, the dealer is obligated to cover any repairs needed to make the vehicle safe and operationally sound.
If you purchase a vehicle 7 years old or older, and/or for less than $3,000, you have no protection from the dealer. The car is sold, "as is," and must be labeled that way on the sales sticker. Private sellers are also under no obligation to provide a warranty for a used vehicle.
The Connecticut Attorney General offers the following guidelines for anyone thinking of purchasing a used vehicle, especially one not covered by any consumer protection laws:
- Under Connecticut law, you have the right to a pre-sale inspection of the vehicle. Hire a trusted mechanic to look at the vehicle and help you decide if it will be a good purchase.
- Ask if the car was ever in an accident or bought back under the Lemon Law. Also, check the vehicle history to look for rebuilt or salvage titles.
- Make sure that any promises to repair the vehicle as part of the sales process are written into the terms of sale or the contract.
- Any dealer selling a used car is required by law to print details of the warranty on the window sticker.
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- Make sure that anyone selling a vehicle privately has the registration and title in their name. If not, the seller might be trying to skirt regulations by posing as a private dealer.
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