Each state has a different standard for lemons, though each state requires consumers to let the manufacturer or their authorized agent attempt to repair the defect. Texas, for example, requires consumers allow the manufacturer four repair attempts before declaring the vehicle a lemon. Many states require fewer attempts, as well as fewer attempts if the defect being repaired is considered a serious safety risk.
In addition to requiring repair attempts, lemon law protections in every state go into effect when the vehicle has been out of service for defect repair for a certain amount of time. That time length varies from state to state. For example, Texas lemon law considers a vehicle a lemon if it’s out of service for 30 days or more; Colorado lemon law requires the vehicle be out of service for 30 cumulative business days, while Tennessee requires service time of 30 calendar days.
Lemon laws throughout the United States entitle you to either repurchase (getting your money back) or replacement (getting a new vehicle) if your vehicle is declared a lemon.
Repurchase will, in most cases, include the down payment, all monthly payments including taxes and finance charges, and in many states reimbursement for rental car or towing expenses. The manufacturer will retain a “usage fee” for the amount of time or miles driven before the defects manifested.
Replacement means the manufacturer must replace the lemon vehicle with one of a similar make and model.
However, many states require consumers first resort to arbitration before the state lemon law’s repurchase or replacement provisions go into effect.
Arbitration, or informal dispute resolution processes, are similar to courts but are informal and tend to resolve faster than actual court cases. However, arbitration rarely ends well for the consumer for many reasons, including severely curtailed evidence discovery rights when compared to court cases.
The federal Magnuson-Moss Warranty Act of 1974 borrows the statute of limitations from the state in which the breach of warranty occurs. Because Magnuson-Moss is a federal law, it supersedes any state law and can be pursued even if the state lemon law’s technical requirements are not met. Furthermore, the Act provides that the vehicle manufacturer shall pay the claimant’s attorneys’ fees if the claimant prevails against the manufacturer. Lemon law attorneys exist that will only collect attorneys’ fees if they succeed in obtaining a financial recovery for their clients.
Hiring a lawyer to assist in your lemon law case is a prudent decision. Lawyers act as both their client’s guide and advocate within the legal system. The law contains innumerable technicalities and pitfalls that may seem minor to a layperson, but can seriously and adversely affect a lemon law case if ignored. Courts do not go lightly on those who do not understand or follow standard legal rules and procedures. The Magnuson-Moss Warranty Act allows lemon law attorneys to collect their fees directly from the manufacturer, meaning you pay nothing out of pocket. If you bought a lemon car and can’t get any help from the manufacturer, don’t hesitate to reach out to a qualified lemon law attorney. They have the experience and expertise needed to get you the justice you deserve.