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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.

Navigating Online Car Purchases: Tips to Avoid Lemons and Secure Your Lemon Law Rights

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More Americans than ever are buying their vehicles online. Consumer Affairs wrote the global online car buying market is expected to reach $722.79 billion by 2030, up from $237.93 billion in 2020. Online commerce has flourished since the dawn of the internet and it makes sense car buying would follow. Consumer Affairs’ reporting shows rising internet usage, flexable purchasing options and more accessible online car portals with more access to vehicle information allow more consumers than ever to shop for cars online. However, online car purchases come with certain caveats on top of those that come with any vehicle purchase – including the potential for buying a lemon.

Lemon vehicles can happen to any vehicle consumer. Thousands of Americans inadvertently purchase defective “lemon” vehicles every year: the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) estimates consumers inadvertently purchase 150,000 vehicles every year that contain repeating, unfixable defects. These issues can range from design flaws, substandard materials, manufacturing errors or simple human mistakes at the factory. Regardless of the cause, the result is the same: a defective lemon vehicle. When the manufacturer drops the ball like this, lemon laws exist to make sure they make their consumer whole. When the company fails at even that, lemon law attorneys can step in to make sure consumers get the compensation they deserve.

Buying a car online can save you a lot of time and hassle. You can compare and contrast pricing data and features quickly between several different vendors, and shop from available vendors across a much wider geographic area. It’s also easier to walk away from a deal when shopping online, as opposed to dealing with a salesman in person.

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

There are clear downsides, however. For one, you can’t inspect the vehicle in person when purchasing online unless you plan on completing the purchasing process in person. Buying a car online also prevents you from a time-honored way to make sure the vehicle you’re buying is right for you: the test drive. Not being able to inspect and test drive the vehicle can also put you at a greater risk of getting stuck with a lemon.

Nothing about buying a car online negates your lemon law rights. If anything it should give you better access to the manufacturer’s written warranty, which is key to lemon law protections. Lemon law protections hinge on warranties, without which the consumer would have no legal basis for protection. New car purchases always come with a written warranty which details how long the manufacturer will provide free repairs for any problem discovered within the vehicle not the fault of the consumer themselves. A consumer looking to purchase a new vehicle should always check the warranty before making a purchasing decision, in this case doing so digitally. The Magnuson-Moss Warranty Act, a federal lemon law protecting all Americans, forces automakers selling vehicles in the United States to make their written warranties available up front. This way consumers can shop based on warranty coverage. The consumer should check how long the warranty lasts, who they should contact for warranty service, how the company says it will handle warrantied problems, and what conditions or limitations are included in the warranty.

If you are already considering buying a car online, you can easily take time to do a little research and avoid buying a lemon in the first place. There are several online tools and techniques that can help you reduce the chances of getting stuck with a lemon.

One of the best ways to avoid a lemon is researching the make and model in which you are interested and checking its reliability record. Websites such as Consumer Reports collect reliability information on recently released vehicles and publish news on the newest recall information. If the vehicle you want to buy is already the subject of a recall (or several), consider choosing a different one. The NHTSA’s website also publishes all its recall notices online, for free.

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

You should also check the NHTSA’s website for Technical Service Bulletins, or TSBs. These are reports a manufacturer sends its dealer about recurring issues with a specific vehicle model and how to remediate them. These usually aren’t safety related and thusly manufacturers are rarely obligated to notify owners. Forewarned is forearmed when it comes to buying a new vehicle.

Unfortunately, buying in person still provides certain advantages you can’t replicate online, when it comes to avoiding a lemon. A quick test drive can help spot any mechanical or aesthetic issues with the vehicle ahead of a purchase. loser inspection can find problems like paint issues or mismatched body panels on the outside, and time spent inside the vehicle can help you find strange odors, problems with the instrument panel, or cosmetic problems. Getting the vehicle in motion can help you find problems with the engine or drivetrain and bringing it to a rapid stop can find problems with the brakes or seatbelts. Despite the convenience in online purchasing, you should never buy a vehicle without test driving it first.

The moment you discover a problem that could be a defect, you should report it to the dealership. You must allow the manufacturer attempts to repair the problem before you can push for lemon law compensation. The amount of repair attempts allowed, and the time they can take to enact them, vary from state to state. For example, consumers in Texas must allow four repair attempts, or only two if the problem in question involves a serious safety hazard. Also, if the manufacturer keeps the vehicle in the shop for more than 30 days, the consumer can push for lemon law remedies.

Lemons can strike any car consumer, whether they are buying online or in person. But when it comes to getting the compensation you deserve for your lemon car, you have options. More importantly: you have help. The lemon law attorneys of Allen Stewart P.C. have combined decades of experience fighting manufacturers in court on behalf of consumers. They have a storied record of getting positive outcomes for their clients. The longer you wait, the more difficult pursuing your claim becomes. Contact Allen Stewart P.C. today.

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