Buying a new car is sometimes a goal set long before or a sudden need if your current vehicle is beyond repair. Once you purchase a new vehicle, you trust that your vehicle will be reliable and transport you to and from home in a reliable manner. For those who travel regularly for their job and do not take a plane, it is even more important that the vehicle is a reliable one.
For those who purchase a vehicle and are concerned that it will be a lemon, there are some steps you can take to cut down on those chances. There is never a way to guarantee that a vehicle won’t suddenly show a defect that is dangerous and not repairable. However, the good news on that front is that, provided you purchased the vehicle within the boundaries of the state of Texas, you are protected by the Texas Lemon Law.
However, as mentioned previously, there are ways to cut down on the risk of owning a lemon. This involves preparation and awareness, as well as a little business savvy and some smart organization in your life.
Do your research
Check into the preferred make and model of vehicle before you commit to a purchase. Not only do you need to know if it fits your budget and will get sufficient gas mileage for the uses you intend to put it to, but you also need to know if the vehicle in question has a reputation for specific issues.
There are various guides online that warn of potential issues with a specific type of vehicle. There are also forums to check that share personal experiences with a specific year of truck, car or SUV. Check them all carefully and consider the good reports with the bad in each case.
Lemon laws are confusing. Read our guide to the lemon law process.
For example, some vehicles have a problem with the transmission in a certain number of the models made in a specific year. This constitutes a trend that you should be aware of and increases the chance you will end up with a vehicle that has a defect that will need resolved.
For other vehicles, the issue may already be recognized and a recall has been issued. The good news there is that the cost will be covered. However, if you have repairs done as part of a recall and the issue is not resolved, this is where the vehicle could potentially be a lemon. Be aware of the risk before signing on the dotted line.
Know your rights
As a vehicle owner in the state of Texas, be aware of what the Texas Lemon Law does and doesn’t cover. For example, a tractor purchased in the state is not covered under the Lemon law. Meanwhile, a truck, SUV, motorcycle or even that electric vehicle you just have to have are covered under the set rules and regulations of the state.
The Texas Department of Motor Vehicles oversees the Texas Lemon Law and handles complaints filed under its purview. Therefore, it is a good idea to understand what type of vehicles they handle while dealing with these complaints.
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It is also wise to understand that newly purchased vehicles that are covered under an original warranty from the dealer or manufacturer are eligible under the lemon law. A used vehicle purchased with an original warranty still active is also eligible.
Otherwise, it must be a vehicle purchased within the first 24 months or 24,000 miles driven – from a dealer or manufacturer. That vehicle must have a defect that puts the driver at risk and also significantly decreases the value of the vehicle.
Keep accurate records
This is helpful for many reasons. The first is that keeping accurate records means you have a good idea of when maintenance is due and when things need to be addressed on your vehicle. Meanwhile, it also proves an issue exists if the vehicle is considered as a potential lemon.
Keeping records of all maintenance attempts is key for this purpose. It also shows that you are a conscientious vehicle owner and are not trying to blame the manufacturer for an issue that arose because you did not take proper care of the vehicle.
Keep up with maintenance
As noted above, keeping good records and making sure to keep up with the recommended maintenance schedule means that the onus of an issue is not left on your shoulders as the vehicle owner. There are times that the responsibility lies with the vehicle owner, and if you have an unreliable vehicle that is new and should not be giving you issues, the last thing you need is to have the manufacturer blame your care of the vehicle for the defect.
Find a good lemon law attorney
A reliable, experienced preferably successful lemon law attorney can help if you run into a situation where a lemon law complaint must be filed. These attorneys know the various steps in the process, understand the information that must be gathered and usually have the staff available to get the job done quickly and efficiently.
As a vehicle owner who is stressed and dealing with transportation concerns, working with a reliable lemon law attorney means one less stress falling on your shoulders.
Keep in mind there are various criteria to determine a vehicle is a lemon. Those criteria must be met while the vehicle is within the first 24,000 miles driven or first 24 months of ownership by the first owner. Meanwhile, the issues must show up despite numerous repair attempts (four or more) and must show that the defect remains the same no matter what lengths are taken to repair the issue.
For more information on arbitration and other frequently asked lemon law questions, click here.
The vehicle owner must face 30 or more days (not necessarily consecutive) where the vehicle sits idle. Any day where a loaner vehicle is provided as a means of transportation does not count toward this tally.
Finally, the manufacturer must be made aware that an ongoing situation is at hand, within six months of that initial 24,000 mile or 24-month period.
The defect itself can not be a minor inconvenience. Instead, it has to put the driver’s life at risk and significantly impact the value of the vehicle.
As a vehicle owner, all of this might not come to you immediately when you recognize there is an issue and attempt to get it resolved through repair. However, at the first sign of a potential defect, it is wise to start keeping track of the repair attempts, costs, and service reports. It is a good idea to set reminders for those maintenance steps recommended in the vehicle’s owner’s manual, which is located in the glove compartment.
Prepare yourself for this possibility and hope that your vehicle is not one of the more than 150,000 cars that are labeled a lemon each year in the United States.
However, if you are one of the unlucky group who face this issue, be confident that you have the tools at your disposal to resolve the issue in a timely manner and without accruing significantly more debt because you are stuck with a lemon and also have to find a way to get from Point A to Point B.