When the Auto Dealer Gives You Lemons..

If you bought or leased a new car that spends more time in the shop getting repairs than it does taking you places, the lemon law may apply to you. A “lemon” has been defined as a passenger car with “a defect or condition which substantially impairs the use, value or safety of the vehicle.” “Passenger car” includes SUV’s and certain types of trucks.

Basic Lemon Law

Each state has some form of lemon law. If your car has to be in the shop over and over again for the same problem that just cannot be fixed, the car is a lemon. The car is also a lemon if it is in the shop for a problem that is covered by the warranty, but is taking an extended period of time to fix.

The law varies state by state on such issues as how many attempts the dealer is allowed to make to fix the car before it is considered a lemon. Also, state laws differ as to how many days the manufacturer has to try and fix the car under the warranty before it is determined to be a lemon.

Some states require the problem to occur within the first year of purchase. Others apply the law if the problem arises during the time the car is under warranty.

Who is at Fault?

Repairs need to be performed by a manufacturer’s authorized dealer, but your claim that your car is a lemon is against the manufacturer. Keep itemized records of all attempts to fix your car and of all days you were without your car while the dealer was trying to fix it.

Possible Remedies

Several remedies are available depending on the severity of the case.

• The manufacturer may return all the money you paid for the car minus a small mileage offset. This includes your down payment, any monthly payments already paid, all taxes and licensing fees and any financing charges.

• You may get a new replacement car identical in value to the lemon.

• You may decide to keep the car and be compensated for all the inconvenience and expenses incurred during the time the car was being repaired. This also may include getting an extended warranty.

Almost all state lemon laws require the manufacturer to pay legal fees if you win your case. A lemon law lawyer will generally evaluate without charge whether or not the lemon law applies to you and your vehicle. 


Mercedes Potter is a part of an elite team of writers who have contributed to hundreds of blogs and news sites. Follow her @CedesPotter to see what else she’s been blogging about.

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