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Lemon Law in North Carolina

A lemon is a seriously defective car, van, motorcycle, or pickup truck where the defect cannot be repaired after a reasonable number of attempts. North Carolina's Lemon Law is officially known as the New Motor Vehicles Warranties Act, and according to the law, the manufacturer must replace the vehicle or refund the customer's money, a choice made by the consumer.

Is My Vehicle a Lemon?

The North Carolina lemon law applies to the following new vehicles purchased in North Carolina:

  • Passenger cars.
  • Trucks.
  • Motorcycles.
  • Most vans.

The law requires manufacturers to repair any defect that impairs the use, value, or safety of a new motor vehicle within the first 2 years OR 24,000 miles, whichever comes first.

In order for your car to be considered a lemon, all of the following must apply:

  • The issue occurs in a part of the vehicle that is covered by the manufacturer's warranty, and you are within the warranty period.
  • You notify the manufacturer about the issue in writing and provide a reasonable period not more than 15 days to fix said issue.
  • The manufacturer has had 4 attempts to repair the same issue and the vehicle has been out of service for a total of 20 business days or more over a period of 12 months during the warranty period.
  • The manufacturer's efforts to fix the vehicle are not successful.

Under the lemon law, when your manufacturer is unable to fix the defect, you get to choose either:

  • A comparable new car.
    OR
  • A refund.

Filing a Lemon Law Complaint

To begin the process of having your vehicle replaced or refunded, you must first notify the manufacturer in writing, letting them know about the defect. You must allow the manufacturer up to 15 days to correct it.

If the manufacturer does not handle your complaint satisfactorily and you choose to sue, you must give them written notice before you file suit. Most manufacturers have dispute resolution programs for customers who have issues with their warranties. Some require you to participate in these programs prior to taking the matter to court. You might want to consult with an attorney at this point in the process.

Refer to your warranty for more information about how your vehicle manufacturer deals with vehicles that qualify as lemons.

Refunds vs. Replacements

When you choose to have the manufacturer repurchase your car, they must give you the full contract price including undercoating, dealer preparation, and the nonrefundable parts of any extended warranties, plus collateral charges such as sales tax and registration fees, and finance charges. They can subtract a reasonable allowance for your use of the vehicle during the time you owned or leased it.

If you choose a replacement vehicle instead of a refund, the manufacturer must replace it with a comparable new vehicle. If it's a leased vehicle that is being replaced, you must transfer the title to the manufacture so that you can receive a new vehicle.

The NC Department of Justice offers many consumer tips and suggestions, including the Lemon Law. For more information, visit the Attorney's site or consult your attorney.

Hiring a NC Lemon Law Attorney

When you search for a lemon lawyer in North Carolina, be sure to look for one that is familiar with lemon law cases and knows all the intricacies of the law.

You'll want to ask any potential NC lemon law attorneys about their:

  • Experience.
  • Lemon law expertise.
  • Track record.
  • Fees.

With thousands of dollars on the line, you need a lawyer you trust to successfully resolve your case.

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