Lemon Law in South Carolina
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South Carolina adopted a statewide Lemon Law in 1989. The Lemon Law covers new vehicles that were purchased or leased on or after October 3, 1989.
For your vehicle to qualify as a "lemon" under the Lemon Law, it must meet the following guidelines:
- It doesn't meet the manufacturer's written warranty within the first 12 months or 12,000 miles after purchase.
- It must have a defect which prevents it from being used, or that lowers its market value significantly.
- It cannot be repaired by the manufacturer within a reasonable time.
When you discover the defect, you need to contact the manufacturer. The Lemon Law makes the manufacturer responsible for a lemon car, rather than the dealership. The manufacturer must make the repairs at no cost to you within a reasonable time period.
The guidelines suggest that three repair attempts or 30 days of the car not being in use (those days do not have to be consecutive) qualifies for reasonable time.
If the manufacturer cannot repair your vehicle during that time frame, they must either replace the vehicle or refund a portion of your money, based on the amount of time you used the vehicle and the mileage you placed on it during that time. They must also refund all taxes and fees you paid in the purchase of the vehicle.
Between the time you request repairs and the time you request a refund or replacement, you must participate in any arbitration program the manufacturer offers. This arbitration process is free and can usually resolve the dispute within 40 days. If you are not happy with the mediation process, you can then file a lawsuit.
If all efforts fail and you are not satisfied with the outcome, you may file a complaint with the South Carolina Department of Consumer Affairs (DCA). The agency provides instructions for filing a complaint and also a link to file a complaint online.
You can print a copy of the complaint form so you'll know exactly what documentation you'll need.
You should always buy your vehicles from reputable dealers; however, if you feel you've purchased a lemon, remember these tips:
- Keep all paperwork concerning your car: registrations, warranties, repair receipts, correspondence.
- Make a list of names and phone numbers of all contacts you have concerning repairs of your car.
- Keep a log of all the times the car was out of service due to repairs.
- Check out the Buyer Beware List provided by the DCA. It's an updated, comprehensive list of businesses who do not respond to complaints. This list includes businesses both in and out of state and is updated regularly to educate consumers.
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