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We handle cases across the United States. Allen Stewart is licensed to practice law in Texas, California, New York, Pennsylvania, Missouri, North Carolina, Ohio and Arizona.

Lemon Law Rights and Recourse for Buyers 

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Americans buy thousands of vehicles every year, and a significant portion of them end up defective. These vehicles contain repeating, unfixable problems. These “lemon” vehicles represent failures during the design, manufacturing or transportation process. The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) estimates consumers inadvertently purchase 150,000 of these “lemon” vehicles every year. These vehicles can cost their buyers thousands of dollars in unforeseen repair costs, alternate transportation, towing and more.

The defects that make cars into “lemons” range from minor, barely perceptible problems like painting mistakes or strange odors, to dangerous malfunctions such as engine problems or safety system failures. These defects can result from mistakes in the manufacturing process, engineering flaws or mishaps in shipping from the factory to the dealership. Regardless of the severity or cause, one thing remains true: the consumer can seek legal recourse and get compensation.

Automotive manufacturers must provide written warranties with each new vehicle. American consumer laws require these warranties be easily available and written in plain language. The warranty must state for how long the company will cover any repair needed to remedy a defect. This is the company’s written promise that they will fix any problem found with the vehicle not caused by the consumer themselves. Warranties spell out what problems they will fix and how long a consumer can pursue a repair. This means any defect found in the vehicle is the manufacturer’s responsibility to repair.

When the manufacturer doesn’t hold up their end of the bargain, lemon laws at the state and federal levels compel them to do so or face legal penalties. These lemon laws give consumers and their attorneys the tools they need to get compensation either in or out of a courtroom.

Lemon laws almost always only cover new vehicles; those sold within the protection period of the original factory warranty. Lemon laws also cover vehicles whose problems did not arise as a result of abuse or neglect. For example, a vehicle containing an engine problem caused by faulty components or an error at the factory, that vehicle is covered. If the engine problem is caused by the owner never changing the oil, that vehicle would not be covered.

For more information on arbitration and other frequently asked lemon law rights questions, click here.

Some states offer lemon protection for used vehicles but not most. Lemon laws traditionally cover cars still under their original manufacturer’s warranty, and most used cars are resold long after that period has ended.

Andrew Ross, a lemon law attorney with Allen Stewart P.C., said used car consumers are often out of luck if they expect the manufacturer to repurchase or replace their used vehicle.

“If a consumer is hoping to force the manufacturer to repurchase or replace their used vehicle, the Texas Lemon Law is not going to help the consumer achieve their goal,” Ross said. “The only relief that may be afforded is that the consumer may be able to force the manufacturer to repair the problems experienced in the vehicle.”

After filing a lemon law claim and prevailing in court, the consumer typically has two options of legal recourse: repurchase or replacement. Replacement is precisely that: the manufacturer provides a vehicle as similar as possible to the original. This time, hopefully, without the unfixable defects that made the original a lemon in the first place. The manufacturer must provide a “comparable” vehicle, meaning one of the same make and model as the defective vehicle. Just as in the case of a buyback, the manufacturer can also withhold a certain amount of money paid according to the use of the defective vehicle.

The consumer can also choose repurchase, or buyback. This is when the manufacturer agrees to refund you the money spent on your defective vehicle. Buyback is one of the faster methods of getting compensation, since they simply cut you a check for the full price of the vehicle including sales taxes, title registration and other fees. Most state laws also require the manufacturer reimburse you for incidental costs you encountered because of the vehicle’s defects, including rental car fees, towing costs, phone or mail communications made when contacting the dealership or manufacturer, personal property damage, attorney’s fees if the consumer hires an attorney after learning the manufacturer has also hired an attorney, and even room and board if the vehicle fails while on an out-of-town trip.

Think you have a lemon, click here to fill out a 30 second form.

Buybacks come with a caveat, however. Manufacturers can withhold reasonable allowances for the consumer’s use of the vehicle” depending on how much the consumer drove the vehicle before the defect put the vehicle in the shop. Simply, the more you drive the vehicle before finding the defect, the less the manufacturer must pay when buying it back from you.

Lemon law attorneys including the lawyers of Allen Stewart P.C. rely on both state and federal lemon laws when pursuing lemon claims. Each state has its own lemon law, with variations on how long a consumer must pursue a claim and how long a vehicle must be out of service before a claim can commence. Additionally, consumers across the country are protected by the Magnuson-Moss Warranty Act, a federal law protecting all Americans.

The Magnuson-Moss Warranty Act requires companies to designate any warranties they offer as either “full” or “limited” and specify exactly what they cover in a single, clear, easy-to-read document. They must also make the warranty conspicuously available for consumer review, allowing consumers to shop for warranty coverage before making a purchase.

Magnuson-Moss makes companies distinguish clearly the difference between “full” and “limited” warranties, and mandates those companies remedy any problems covered by the warranty within a reasonable time. The warrantor can’t limit the products implied warranty or limit consequential damages for breaching that warranty unless that exclusion appears clearly in the warranty’s text.

Lemon laws are confusing. Read our guide to the lemon law complaint process.

The Act empowers consumers, giving them tools they need to face companies in court when they don’t stand by their warranties. Consumers can pursue their claims in court, such as lemon law claims, and take their attorney’s fees from the company if they win.

Lemon laws, like every other law, are governed by statutes of limitations. Statutes of limitations grant deadlines for initiating legal proceedings. This is why lemon law attorneys often tell you to “call now” or “reach out today,” as past a certain point they can no longer help you. In Texas, that time period is six months following whichever occurs earlier: the warranty’s expiration, 24 months after the purchase, or 24,000 miles driven on the vehicle in question after its date of delivery.

Once the proscribed time period expires, a claim cannot be filed or would be dismissed on statutory grounds. United States law has statutes of limitations for both civil and criminal claims, though particularly serious criminal claims have no statutes of limitations. The statute lengths can also vary from state to state for their lemon laws, which can also differ from the statutes for federal laws.

The attorneys of Allen Stewart P.C. have the experience and expertise you need to get compensation for your lemon car. Don’t wait any longer; contact Allen Stewart P.C. We’re here to help you get back on the road.

This information brought to you by Allen Stewart P.C.

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