Lemon Law in Alaska
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The term "lemon," when applied to motor vehicles rather than to citrus fruit, is loosely defined as a new motor vehicle that has a substantial mechanical problem that either has not been fixed or cannot be fixed within a reasonable number of attempts, or that has had a certain number of days out of service.
The First Year
The first year that you own the vehicles are the most important in deciding whether or not it is a lemon. You are required to report all breakdowns, failures, and problems to both the dealership and the manufacturer, and you need to do it as son as possible. It must be within 1 year of receiving the vehicle. Many manufacturers have e-mail accounts set up to assist you, but you may need to engage the help of a local consumer assistance agency or lemon law legal specialist to find the right place/people to contact.
Don't wait to get your car back to the dealership if it begins to give you trouble. If your car is fine for the first year and then starts acting up after that, you will not be eligible to benefit from the lemon laws.
Keep a notebook and jot down everything that occurs and what is done to fix (or attempt to fix) the problem. The key, in many cases, to successfully use the state's lemon law depends on three major factors:
- Keeping excellent records.
- Giving the dealership or other parties proper notice.
- Using arbitration programs if they are required.
Your biggest responsibility it to see to it that your car gets into the dealership's repair department, and that you have accurate records of everything that has happened during the course of the breakdown. Make note of all phone calls, repair attempts, log the time that your car has been out of commission, whether it is at the shop or at your home. If it cannot be driven, that counts as down time. Keep your repair appointments and have routine maintenance done if it is required.
After Three Strikes
If the same problem keeps occurring, the dealership has 3 attempts to get it right, after that, the car is officially a lemon. Or, if your car has been out of commission for a total of 30 days, it can be considered a lemon.
In the even of either of the above, then dealer then must do one of these things:
- Replace the vehicle
- Refund your money including all tax, registration, transfer fees, and other related expenses
Be aware that if you do accept the refund option, the manufactured is legally allowed to deduct for your use of the vehicle and for any depreciation if the vehicle has been subjected to abuse or neglect.
The lemon laws are not applicable if the defect is associated with any type of changes or alteration to the car. And, if the repairs are not made within the allotted time due to a labor strike or a natural disaster, the dealership is allowed to extend the time.
Also, the lemon laws only apply to the type of defect that substantially impacts the safe use of the vehicles. Small problems such as inside compartments not latching, a bad radio, a sticking passenger seat, or a broken cup holder do not fall under the lemon laws. However, some defects that might be seen as minor in other climates could be considered under the lemon law in a harsh area like Alaska. A broken heater, non-functioning wipers, defective defroster or other heating issues would be more important in Alaska than in, for instance, Arizona.
One more thing: Once the three tries have been made, it is your responsibility to notify the dealership in writing by certified mail. This is where you could greatly benefit from the advice of a good lawyer.
Hire an AK Lemon Law Attorney
Several factors can help you pick the best lemon law attorney for you:
- Find a lawyer with experience. Lawyers can practice many types of law in many fields, so not all of them are experts in Alaska lemon law.
- Ask for recommendations. Talk to people you know who may have used or worked with a lemon law attorney.
- Set up a consultation. Most lawyers will offer a free consultation, which is a good opportunity to learn about their background, experience, and case history.
- Discuss fees. Attorneys bill clients in different ways. Some will ask for money up front (a retainer), while others may allow you to pay later.
Regardless of your choice, make sure you hire a lemon law attorney who you feel comfortable working with and who you trust to represent you.
Benefits of an Alaska Attorney
If your car has been in the shop over and over again for the same issue, you already know that owning a lemon is a big hassle.
Saving time and getting your vehicle fixed and back on the road is probably your top priority.
Lemon law attorneys in Alaska can help by:
- Representing you in court, taking the stress out of representing yourself.
- Ensuring you receive the compensation you deserve from the manufacturer.
- Helping you gather all required documents needed for court.
Three sets of laws apply to defective vehicles sold in the United States:
- Magnuson-Moss Warranty Act: This is the law that keeps car dealerships from writing unfair or unenforceable warranties on motor vehicles.
- Uniform Commercial Code: This is the section of public law that provides for the redress in cases of lemons, such as refund or car replacement
- State-Specific Lemon Laws: The laws are they apply in any specific state. More state specific details can be found at the State of Alaska Department of Law, Consumer Protection Division, including detailed instructions for notification requirements, what type of notes to keep, who to call, where to write, who to notify and when.