What Makes a Car a Lemon? This is What You Need to Know

Did you know that there are around 150,000 new cars every year that are considered lemons? If you are one of the lucky few that have the feeling that you are the owner of a lemon but are wondering “what makes a car a lemon?” we are here to help.

We are going to go over everything you need to know about what is a lemon car and if there is anything you can do about it.

What Makes a Car a Lemon?

In order for a car to be seen by law as a lemon, it has to have serious problems that can’t be fixed in any way. For example, if your Toyota is a lemon the value, usefulness, and safety of the vehicle can’t be fixed. If the car does not drive the way it should drive then it might be a lemon.  There are also some complaints about GM vehicles which definitely you need to avoid because of a lawsuit regarding faulty transmissions.

If the air conditioning stops working or the door handle falls off but you can still drive around, more than likely this is not a lemon.

State Laws

Every state is different when it comes to lemon laws. Certain states like Delaware and Colorado only offer a lemon law protection to brand new vehicle buyers. Other states like Arizona and New York offer help for qualified used car buyers and for new car buyers.

The biggest difference between states is the time allowance. States like Georgia allow for 12 months or 12,000 miles, New York allows for 24 months or 18,000 miles, and California allows for 18 months or 18,000 miles. You will have to be able to prove that your car was suffering from lemon issues during this time period.

Your repair records and receipts will be enough to prove the timing of the problem.

Private Party Sale

If you buy a lemon from a private party more than likely you will be out of luck. Most states do not offer lemon law protection to private party transactions. If you happen to live in a state like Massachusetts then you will be covered as long as you can provide proof that the seller did not tell you about the vehicle’s defect.

Dealer Purchase

Most dealers give you a certain amount of time to inform them of any defects you find with a vehicle after you purchase it. Once you notify them of the defect they have a chance to fix the issue. Once they fix it and the problem comes back and they can’t fix it again after three or four times of trying then you can get a new comparable vehicle in exchange for the defective one or you can get your money back.

Lemon Checks Before Buying a Car

If you are buying a used car from a dealer it is not an uncommon practice to ask for a free lemon check report. A dealership should have no problem providing this to you and allowing you to keep a copy. There are many dealers that will offer this as part of their sales process.

If a dealer ever hesitates to give you a lemon check report then it might be a red flag to go somewhere else or pay out of pocket for a CARFAX report. If you really want the vehicle you have set your eyes on then paying for the report itself to ensure that there is no funny business, will give you peace of mind.

When buying from a private seller you can also ask them to provide a CARFAX report. If they are really serious about selling the vehicle they should have no problem buying this and providing you with the report.

Lemon Law Claims

If you find yourself in a position where you want to pursue a lemon law claim you will want to make sure to speak to an attorney first. They will be able to discuss your specific situation and see if you have a case or not. Even when you are past the time limits and laws if you truly believe that you bought a lemon a lawyer might be able to help you.

This will vary on your purchase agreement and all of the records you have kept. It is extremely important to have good recordkeeping in order to pursue a claim. Lemon laws entitle the manufacturer to a certain number of fix attempts this is why you want to make sure that you have all of these repair dates and times noted and ask for receipts.

Be as accurate as possible with the mileage when you dropped it off each time and also the name of the technician or technicians that fixed your vehicle. Lawyers can often obtain these records with a subpoena if needed but it is best when you have copies of the records yourself.

Feeling Like a Lemon Law Pro?

Now that you know more about what makes a car a lemon and the different laws that are in place you can check what the laws are in your state. Because these laws vary you want to be well informed on your state’s rules. Do not get stuck in a never-ending cycle of the same repairs over and over and living in the repair shop for the same issue every few weeks or months.

If an attorney is your best option to help you then contact one right away. There is no reason to live with an unreliable ride forever.

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