Manufacturers are held responsible for lemons, rather than dealerships. The dealership does not have the authority to take the car back and offer a replacement or refund. I often hear alarming stories from frustrated consumers who have gone to the dealership and threatened to sue their reps for not giving them their money back. The dealerships are there to make commission off the vehicle purchase and that is it.
If free is not affordable, then I don’t know what is. Under the lemon law statutes, there is a fee-shifting provision that states the manufacturer is required to pay your attorneys’ fees if you are able to prove your claim. With the Davis Consumer Law Firm, we work under this contingency fee basis, and charge no upfront or retainer fees. [Read “Why is it free?”]
Even if you purchased a used vehicle, you may still be able to file a lawsuit if the vehicle had a warranty attached to it or if there was a guarantee on some type of repair. The lemon law is actually triggered by the warranty that came with the vehicle - if your car came with an extended warranty, certified pre-owned warranty or service contract, you may have rights under the lemon law. Although some states’ lemon laws apply only to “new” vehicles, there are other state and federal statutes that exist that allow you to carry out a claim if the defective vehicle has a warranty on it. If this is the case, an attorney can apply a breach of warranty if the dealership fails to make the repair after a reasonable number of attempts.
The fundamental issue in a matter involving a lemon is the question of whether a reasonable amount of repairs were attempted. In general, by law, the manufacturer is entitled to an opportunity at reasonable number of attempts to repair a vehicle. Several considerations besides the state’s lemon law requirements are taken into account when defining what number of repair attempts is “reasonable” such as the vehicle’s manufacturer, the warranty and other factors. Furthermore, the severity of the defect can impact the argument of how many repair attempts are considered reasonable. We’ve had cases where serious, life-threatening defects came into play which endangered the drivers and passengers, calling for fewer repair attempts and in a few cases, immediate buybacks from the manufacturer.
Unfortunately, the three-day right to cancel a contract does not apply to vehicle sales. Generally, this statute or “cooling-off period” pertains to cash or credit transactions of at least $25 initiated through face-to-face contact (think door-to-door salesmen) at a location other than its regular place of business. Once you sign the sales contract, the vehicle is yours. If you end up with a lemon after leaving a dealership, it is best to speak with an attorney to discuss your options.
It is a popular myth of consumer’s that their state lemon law only applies to automobiles. While state lemon laws vary, lemon law can also apply to motor vehicles with warranties such as motorcycles, trucks, SUVs, ATVs, RV’s and mopeds. Basically, consumer goods with attached warranties costing over $10.00 such as computers, home appliances, cameras are also covered under the lemon law. There is even a puppy lemon law.
If your vehicle is now fixed, it does not mean you do not have a valid lemon law claim. While your vehicle may not qualify for a repurchase under your state’s lemon law, there may be cash value to your case. You still may be able to file a lemon law claim depending on the circumstances. The problems you have experienced in the past may recur later down the road, especially if your vehicle has been subject to multiple repair attempts. If this should happen, having your repairs on record will make your case stronger. Your interests would still be protected under the lemon law. If a new set of defects should arise, you are probably still covered under your state’s lemon law.
If the manufacturer had multiple repair attempts, you may be entitled to relief even without having any supporting paperwork. Although repair invoices can strengthen a lemon law claim, if you are able to provide a detailed list of all complaints made and a log of written/spoken correspondence with the dealer and manufacturer, this may be sufficient to commence the lemon law process.
Lemon law mostly pertains to the manufacturer’s warranty rather than the amount of time you own the car. The first year or 10,000 miles, or in the case of Pennsylvania’s lemon law, the first year or 12,000 miles, creates a “presumption” that your car is a lemon if it was subjected to multiple repairs during this period. If this occurs, the burden then shifts to the manufacturer to prove that your car is not a lemon. It should be noted that many cars qualify under the lemon law due to repairs made AFTER the first year and after the first 12,000 miles.
Though the warranty is expired, you may still be able to sue for lemon law against the manufacturer if the defects were discovered while the warranty was still active.
The dealer cannot find a problem with my vehicle, so there is no case.
False. A majority of the lemon law cases we take on involve problems that are intermittent, or occur randomly. To strengthen your lemon law claim, take your car in to the dealership or notify the manufacturer as soon as the problem occurs and give them an opportunity to repair the vehicle. If they are unsuccessful at making the repair or are unable to diagnose the problem, you may have a lemon on your hands. Keep all paperwork and keep taking your car to the dealership until the problem gets resolved.