The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) estimates American car consumers inadvertently purchase 150,000 “lemon” vehicles a year. These “lemon” vehicles are sold with repeated, unfixable problems by various automotive manufacturers. Ford, Chrysler, Nissan, and many more companies build and sell thousands of lemons every year. Whether these problems originated from poor design, problems in production or substandard parts or materials, one thing is sure: they throw the vehicle out of compliance with its manufacturer’s warranty and requires the manufacturer to take action. When the manufacturer fails to stand behind their warranty, lemon law attorneys step in and protect consumers.
When a consumer buys a lemon vehicle, their best option is finding and hiring a lemon law attorney. These specialized lawyers know how to navigate state and federal lemon laws and getting consumers the justice to which they are entitled. Compensation following a successful lemon law claim can include replacing the lemon vehicle with a new, comparable vehicle – hopefully this time one lacking the previous vehicle’s unfixable problems. Lemon laws require the manufacturer provide the same service contract included with the original vehicle, as well as the same factory or dealer options originally included. The manufacturer must reimburse the consumer for incidental and collateral charges associated with the defective vehicle, such as taxes, finance charges, registration and more.
Barring replacement repurchase is also an option for wronged consumers. When the consumer and manufacturer agree on repurchase, the manufacturer simply buys the lemon vehicle back form the consumer, including all fees paid but minus an allowance for use. Repurchase means the manufacturer will also repay any payments made on the vehicle, if the consumer financed it. This essentially puts the consumer right back where they were before they bought the vehicle in the first place.
When replacing or repurchasing a vehicle from a consumer, manufacturers can withhold a “mileage offset.” This is an amount calculated differently from state to state, but takes into account how much the consumer drove the vehicle while it was operational.
A repurchase, or “buyback,” is one of the faster possible resolutions for a lemon law claim. Buybacks can finish within three weeks, though this is a best-case scenario in which the manufacturer doesn’t oppose the claim or fight it in court.
Every state in America has its own “lemon law” that protects consumers when they purchase defective vehicles unknowingly. These laws give consumers and their attorneys the tools they need to take their automotive manufacturer to court and demand compensation for their losses. The federal Magnuson-Moss Warranty Act backs up and supersedes these laws, often protecting consumers when their state lemon law falls short. The Magnuson-Moss Warranty Act protects Americans wherever they live regardless of state.
Manufacturer’s warranties protect consumers from what lemon laws term “nonconformities.” Nonconformities are recurring, unfixable problems that throw the vehicle “out of conformity” with its written warranty. Nonconformities range from minor problems (unpleasant smells, unidentifiable rattles, radio problems) to major issues (brake failure, engines that won’t start or stop unexpectedly, safety systems that fail to protect occupants). Whether it’s a major or minor problem, any repeated and unfixable problem throws the vehicle out of conformity with its warranty. Even comparatively small problems can affect a vehicle’s resale value, negatively affecting the owner.
Each state laws’ requirements and deadlines vary from state to state. The number of unsuccessful repairs needed before declaring a vehicle a lemon can vary, as does the amount of time required in the shop before making the same declaration. For example, Texas consumers must file their state lemon law complaint no later than 42 months from when the warranty went into effect. The consumer must also file the complaint within the first 24,000 miles driven.
Different states require vehicles meet different standards before being declared a lemon. For example, lemon vehicles in Texas must pass one of three tests before being considered a lemon. Those tests are the serious safety hazard test, the four times test, or the 30-day test.
A vehicle passes the serious safety hazard test if the vehicle owner submits the vehicle for repair of a serious safety hazard once during the first 12 months of ownership or 12,000 miles, whichever comes first, and then once more during the 12 months or 12,000 miles following the first repair attempts without the problem being fixed.
A vehicle passes the 30-day test if it has been out of service for repair because of problems covered by the original factory warranty for a total of 30 days or more during the first two years or 24,000 miles of ownership without a comparable loaner vehicle offered, and there were two repair attempts during the first year or 12,000 without any success.
Consumers who lease vehicles may or may not have the same options as those who purchase their vehicles if their leased vehicles turns out a lemon. State laws vary on lease coverage. Some states, including Arizona, do not extend lemon law coverage to lessees. The Arizona Supreme Court decided in 2006 the leasing company technically owns the vehicle, meaning the leasing company and not the consumer owns the vehicle and is thusly protected by the state’s lemon law.
The federal Magnuson-Moss Warranty Act, however, protects lessees just as it protects consumers who purchase the vehicle. If a consumer’s state law fails to protect them, the federal law offers consumers and their attorneys tools needed to get compensation.
A lemon law attorney will explain all your options to you, including repurchase, replacement, or settling out of court. Your attorney will work with you throughout the claims process, keeping you up to date on your claim’s latest developments and requesting additional information or documents from you when needed. Consumers should conduct rigorous research before engaging with a lemon law lawyer to make sure they are experienced, well recommended and the right law firm for their case. Google Reviews, Martinale and Avvo are good sites at which to find law firm reviews and determine if a firm is right for you and your claim.
The lemon law attorneys at Allen Stewart P.C. have pursued claims for many years, getting many positive outcomes for their clients. They aren’t afraid to press automotive manufacturers and get you the justice you deserve. The longer you wait to file a claim, the more difficult the process will be. Don’t waste any more time; contact Allen Stewart P.C. today.