The federal government enacted the first lemon law in 1975, since then every state has enacted their own version of the law. There are differences in the vehicle lemon law from one state to another but all of them have one thing in common; they are there to protect a consumer in the event the manufacturer fails to fulfill his obligation. When you spend good money on a new car the manufacturer makes certain promises about the quality of the car, these promises are supported by the warranty. If these promises are not kept and the vehicle is plagued with a significant problem that simply cannot be rectifies, the law can step in and protect you, you will be given recourse either a refund of the purchase price or a replacement car.
How does the law work?
Every state is a little different but basically you have to give the manufacturer a set number of chances to rectify the problem and you can claim for compensation if your car is out of service for a given number of days. In almost all cases the defect must be one which significantly impairs the safety, use or value of the car. The number of attempts the manufacturer or the dealer is given to fix the problem varies but most states expect the owner to grant the manufacturer four chances. The number of days out of service also varies but thirty days is the norm and the total is cumulative.
What do you have to do?
As it is not possible to tell if your new car is going to turn out to be a lemon it is a good idea to record all repair attempts. When you take the car in, make sure you get a service order that states the problem, note the date that the car entered the shop and the day it came back. As some states also take mileage into account, log the odometer reading as well.
If you meet the expectations laid down by the vehicle lemon law in your state you are obliged to report the details to the manufacturer, the manufacturer is then given a last attempt to fix the problem once and for all. If the problem cannot be fixed, and odds are it can’t, you are obliged to participate in an arbitration process. Some vehicle manufacturers have established their own arbitration process while in other cases you rely on the state.
Every state has its own vehicle lemon law, there are many similarities but there are also unique differences. To know your lemon law rights you are invited to ask for a free case review from Krohn & Moss Consumer Law Center.