What Happens If Your Used Car Is a Lemon?
One of the most common questions received at Allen Stewart, P.C. is how we can help those running into problems with their used vehicles. Unfortunately, the Texas Lemon Law offers little recourse for used car consumers.
Lemon law attorney Andrew Ross at Allen Stewart, P.C. said the vehicle’s warranty duration is key when determining potential legal protection.
“In general, the Texas Lemon Law does not offer much relief to consumers who purchased used vehicles,” Ross said. “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. 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.”
There is no specific used car lemon law in Texas because the state’s law hinges on whether or not the vehicle is still covered by the manufacturer’s original warranty, not an extended service contract. The law may also still apply if the defect arose while the vehicle was still under the manufacturer’s warranty, even if the warranty has still lapsed. In this case extensive repair documentation is vital to prove when the problem began. Comprehensive repair documentation can only help you when pursuing a claim under the auto lemon law in Texas, regardless of your vehicle’s age.
The Texas Lemon Law specifically covers consumers who purchase or lease motor vehicles at retail from a Texas dealer, and those entitled to enforce the terms of the manufacturer’s warranty. Often times a used car’s warranty has long since expired.
“In the event the manufacturer’s warranty has expired, it’s possible the consumer may still be able to force the manufacturer to repair the vehicle as long as the problems were complained of to an authorized dealership of the manufacturer while the vehicle was still under the manufacturer’s warranty,” Ross said.
Ross said a better path forward for used car owners facing problems is through the federal Magnuson-Moss Warranty Act.
“The Warranty Act allows consumers to seek financial relief from the vehicle’s manufacturer after the manufacturer has failed to repair the vehicle within a reasonable number of attempts or after having a reasonable opportunity,” Ross said. “As long as the consumer complained to the manufacturer (through its authorized dealerships) of the problems while the issues were still covered under the manufacturer’s original warranty, the consumer may be entitled to relief under the Warranty Act.”
Even though there’s no used vehicle lemon law in the state, Allen Stewart, P.C. may still be able to help you with your lemon vehicle. The only way to know is to contact us today to discuss your case’s details. Depending on the specific circumstances of your vehicle, its problems and its warranty coverage, you still may have legal options. Just because there’s no lemon law for used vehicles doesn’t mean you shouldn’t contact us.
Some used car retailers will sell extended service contracts to sweeten the deal in used car purchases. However, these are not covered under the car lemon law in Texas. If your vehicle malfunctions within an extended service contract’s duration but outside of the original manufacturer’s warranty, the car lemon law in Texas cannot help you. Those contracts fall outside the Texas lemon law’s purview.
Consumers looking to file lemon law claims should always keep rigorous records, regardless of whether their vehicle is used or brand new. Those records are used by lemon law attorneys to build their case. Accurate and comprehensive records help lemon law attorneys build ironclad claims.
The auto lemon law in Texas forces manufacturers to pay the vehicle’s full purchase price if it meets the state law’s requirements. The manufacturer must also pay the consumer “reasonable incidental costs” including towing costs, alternative transportation, attorney’s fees if the consumer hires an attorney after notification the manufacturer has a lawyer, and loss or damage to personal property. The manufacturer can legally withhold a “reasonable allowance” for the consumer’s use of the vehicle.
Ross said it is always a good idea to consult with a lemon law attorney when pursuing a lemon law claim, and that trying to pursue a case without an attorney is a poor choice.
“If you decide to file a case in court yourself, you are expected to follow all the proper procedure of that court, and you’re also expected to follow the black letter of the law,” Ross said. “If you’re missing some of those things, or if you don’t follow certain rules, your claim can be completely tossed out.”
He said the court does not go lightly on those who don’t know the laws many vagaries and pitfalls.
“The likelihood of you recovering more on your own than what you could recover with an attorney is very, very low,” he said.
He said since the Magnuson-Moss Warranty Act allows attorneys to seek their fees from the automotive manufacturer, it only makes sense to seek representation from an attorney.
The lemon law attorneys of Allen Stewart, P.C. are ready to use their combined decades of experience to help you with your lemon car. Reach out today so they can sort through the legal weeds to help you find your path to justice and fair compensation.