Understanding South Carolina Lemon Law
The South Carolina lemon law provides a legal remedy for consumers who buy or lease new cars and certain used cars that turn out to be lemons.
According to the law, if the car does not conform to the terms of its written warranty and the manufacturer or their authorized agent is unable to repair the car after a reasonable number of attempts, the consumer is entitled to a refund or replacement.
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South Carolina’s lemon law covers vehicles designed, used and maintained for the transportation of ten or fewer persons. The lemon law also covers trucks with an empty weight of 9,000 pounds or less and a gross weight of 11,000 pounds or less.
The South Carolina lemon law doesn’t cover motorcycles, the living quarters portion of recreational vehicles, and off-road vehicles.
The lemon law covers consumers purchasing or leasing a vehicle to be used for personal or household purposes. The law further covers anyone else entitled by the warranty to enforce its obligations. South Carolina’s lemon law also covers anyone to whom the vehicle was transferred within the warranty period.
The South Carolina lemon law covers vehicle nonconformities. The lemon law defines a “nonconformity” as a defect or condition that substantially impairs the use, value, or safety of the vehicle. The lemon law does not cover any defect or condition resulting from an accident or unauthorized modification or alteration.
South Carolina’s lemon law requires manufacturers to repair any nonconformity reported to them within the first 12 months of purchase or the first 12,000 miles of operation, whichever comes first. If the manufacturer is unable to conform the vehicle to its warranty after a reasonable number of attempts, the manufacturer must either repurchase or replace the vehicle.
The South Carolina lemon law requires the consumer to allow the manufacturer a “reasonable number of attempts” to fix the problem and bring the vehicle into conformity. The lemon law defines a reasonable number of attempts as three or more times for the same nonconformity without success. The definition also covers any time the vehicle is out of service for 30 business days or longer to repair any nonconformity.
Before filing a claim under the South Carolina lemon law, the consumer or their representative must notify the manufacturer of the need for repair by registered, certified or express mail. The manufacturer must be allowed a final opportunity to fix the issue. The manufacturer then has ten business days to notify the consumer of a reasonably accessible repair facility. After the consumer delivers the vehicle to the facility, the manufacturer has up to ten business days to repair the nonconformity.
If all repair attempts fail, the South Carolina lemon law compels manufacturers to either repurchase or replace the vehicle. When repurchasing a vehicle, the manufacturer must pay the full purchase price as delivered, plus applicable finance charges, sales taxes and governmental charges. The manufacturer may deduct a “reasonable allowance for use,” calculated by the number of miles the nonconforming vehicle traveled before its return to the manufacturer.
When replacing a vehicle under the South Carolina lemon law, the manufacturer must provide a comparable motor vehicle. The reasonable allowance for use does not apply to a replacement vehicle.
If the manufacturer has established an “informal dispute settlement procedure,” i.e. arbitration, the consumer must first resort to it before filing a lemon law claim in civil court. The consumer must also participate in a consumer-industry appeals, arbitration or mediation panel if the manufacturer requires such in the warranty.
For more information on arbitration and other frequently asked lemon law questions, click here.
By filing a claim under the Magnuson-Moss Warranty Act, South Carolina consumers can hire lawyers who will represent them without the vehicle owner having to pay any attorneys’ fees directly out of their pocket. This is because the federal Act provides that the vehicle manufacturer may pay the claimants’ reasonable attorneys’ fees if the claimant prevails against the manufacturer. Lemonlawusa.org encourages vehicle owners with a lemon to hire a lemon law attorney. You can bet the car manufacturers have legal counsel at the ready to help defend against lemon law claims both in arbitration and in court.
LemonLawUSA.org is sponsored by Texas Lemon Law Attorney Allen Stewart P.C.