Lemon Law and Used Cars – What You Need to Know Before Buying

Whether you are in the market for a new car or looking to buy a used vehicle, it is essential to avoid getting ripped off. Run vehicle history reports and visit a mechanic before signing the dotted line. Lemon laws protect new cars in every state but can also apply to used cars still under warranty.

What is a Lemon Law Vehicle?

A lemon law vehicle is a brand new or used car with repeated, serious problems. If these recurring problems do not resolve within a specified time frame, the manufacturer must repurchase or replace the vehicle. The purpose of the lemon law in Tennessee is to protect consumers from faulty and dangerous products. Consumers who are successful in a lemon law case may be entitled to a full refund of the purchase price plus trade-in allowance and license and registration fees. Before you buy a new or used car, it is essential to read the manufacturer’s warranty and understand what is covered. Ensure you report any recurring issues to the dealer as soon as they occur and keep detailed maintenance records. This will help your attorney build a strong case and increase the likelihood that your claim is resolved in your favor. Many states have lemon laws separate from the federal Magnuson-Moss Warranty Act. These state laws provide consumers with additional protections, including recovery of attorneys’ fees.

How Do I Know If I Have a Lemon Law Vehicle?

If your new or used vehicle develops several problems within the first two years or 18,000 miles, you may be entitled to a replacement under your state’s Lemon Law. To qualify, the vehicle must be purchased or leased in your state and used primarily for personal, family, or household purposes. The manufacturer must also have a reasonable number of attempts to fix the problem. To be a lemon, the car must have a significant defect that substantially impairs its value, utility, or safety. Some courts have found that numerous minor defects can add up to a substantial impairment of value, but the line is fuzzy. The manufacturer is not obligated to refund or replace the car if the defects are caused by abuse, neglect, or unauthorized alterations. If you have a new or used car that meets these criteria, you may be eligible to file a lemon law claim with your state’s motor vehicle arbitration board. This board, which consists of a panel of consumer advocates, automobile dealers, and certified mechanics, will review your case and decide whether to order the manufacturer to buy back the vehicle. You can receive a full purchase price refund or a like-kind replacement if they do. The process is typically free of charge, faster, and less complicated than a court battle.

Where Can I Buy a Lemon Law Vehicle?

If you buy a used car originally sold or leased as a new vehicle, it will be protected by the state’s lemon law. This law covers any defect or condition that substantially impairs the motor vehicle’s use, value, or safety. Consumers must report the nonconformity to the manufacturer or authorized service agent, usually the dealer, during the warranty period. A buyer may request a refund or replacement of the vehicle if they have returned it to the manufacturer for a reasonable number of repair attempts. The state’s lemon law also requires the manufacturer to offset a portion of the purchase price for use and mileage. If a refund or replacement isn’t possible, buyers should be given a comparable vehicle of equal value. Lemon laws were created to protect consumers from purchasing vehicles that don’t meet quality and performance standards. They add to existing legal remedies, such as breach of contract and negligence. If you’ve purchased a used or new vehicle that has a known problem, it might be worth seeking out an attorney who can help with your lemon law claim. The attorney can collect documentation and negotiate a settlement for you with the manufacturer. They can also assist with the arbitration process if necessary. Some states require BBB to resolve disputes; an attorney can help you determine whether this option is right for your case.

What Should I Do If I Have a Lemon Law Vehicle?

If you buy a new or used car that turns out to be a lemon, you must take steps to protect yourself. A critical step is to get a complete vehicle history report and have any problems inspected by a qualified mechanic. A comprehensive history will help determine whether the problem is likely a lemon law buyback or a more severe issue. You should also pay close attention to a used car’s title, brand, and accident history. Any branded titles could indicate that the car has been a lemon in the past. It would be best to look at the history of repairs under warranty and any problems that have recurred repeatedly. A few fender benders are not uncommon, but repeated issues may be a sign of a lemon. If the car is a lemon, you should follow your state’s laws to obtain compensation from the manufacturer. Most states require that you first file for arbitration with the manufacturer, and your attorney can help you prepare the paperwork required. This includes a letter on the manufacturer’s letterhead explaining your claim and providing documentation of the problems and repair attempts. If the arbitration process is successful, you will receive compensation from the manufacturer. The amount of compensation varies by state and may include a refund, a replacement, or a cash settlement.