The excitement of buying a brand-new car can quickly sour if that vehicle ends up a lemon. If this happens to you, it may be cold comfort to know you aren’t alone. The National Highway Transportation Safety Administration (NHTSA) estimates 150,000 vehicles sold every year in the United States contain unfixable, repeating problems. These “lemon” cars come from all major automakers, including Ford, General Motors, Honda, Volkswagen and more. These defects can arise from a multitude of causes, ranging from faulty components, substandard materials and even simple human error during the manufacturing process.
Regardless of what caused the defects, while they aren’t the owner’s fault they are certainly the owner’s problem. Lemon laws provide American car consumers the tools they need when they sue their lemon car’s manufacturer. Before they decide to pursue a claim, there are several steps they can take to ensure their claim has the best possible chances for a resolution in their favor.
Make Sure Their Vehicle Qualifies
It may sound overly simple but knowing whether or not you even have a lemon vehicle can help you figure out your next step. Lemon laws differ throughout the United States in small but important ways; how long a consumer has to file a claim, how many times a vehicle must be repaired, and other factors.
For more information on arbitration and other frequently asked lemon law claim criteria questions, click here.
A vehicle must still be covered by its original manufacturer’s warranty to qualify for lemon law coverage. Lemon law protection hinges on warranties; without a warranty, the consumer has no basis for legal protection. Most warranty periods expire long before a vehicle is resold on the used car market, meaning used cars are almost always not covered.
If the vehicle is still covered by its original manufacturer’s warranty, it must meet additional criteria provided by the state in which the claim is filed. Texas consumers, for example, must have a vehicle that meets at least one of three tests before filing a claim; the serious safety hazard test, the four times test, or the 30-day test.
A vehicle passes the serious safety hazard test if the vehicle owner submits the vehicle for repair of a serious safety hazard once during the first 12 months of ownership or 12,000 miles, whichever comes first, and then once more during the 12 months or 12,000 miles following the first repair attempts without the problem being fixed.
A vehicle passes the four times test if it’s been taken to a dealership for repairs two times for the same problem or defect within the first year or 12,000 miles, whichever comes first, and twice more during the first 12 months or 12,000 miles following the first repair attempt without the problem being fixed.
A vehicle passes the 30-day test if it has been out of service for repair because of problems covered by the original factory warranty for a total of 30 days or more during the first two years or 24,000 miles of ownership without a comparable loaner vehicle offered, and there were two repair attempts during the first year or 12,000 without any success.
Lemon laws are confusing. Read our guide to the lemon law complaint process.
States also vary in when consumers must report potential defects. Texas consumers must file their lemon law complaint within 42 months of receiving the vehicle or within the first 24,000 miles driven, whichever comes first.
Find a Lemon Law Attorney
Finding a qualified, experienced lemon law lawyerto handle your claim is the single most important and influential step in finding success with your lemon law claim. Lemon law attorneys know the ins and outs of state and federal lemon law, and have experience dealing with your vehicle’s specific manufacturer.
Having an experienced lemon law attorney looking out for your rights protects you not only from your manufacturer, but from your own forgetfulness. Lemon lawyers know how deadlines and statutes of limitations work, and will stay on top of your case to make sure your case isn’t compromised because of a missed deadline.
“Even the simplest things in the law can be complicated because if you miss the timeline, you could lose it all,” said attorney Allen Stewart. “If you file the wrong paperwork, it could set you back time and money, and you might lose the case.”
Lemon law attorney Andrew Rosssaid qualified lemon lawyers know how auto manufacturers operate when confronted with lemon law claims, and know how to work with and around them to make sure consumers get the compensation to which they are entitled.
“If you’re missing some of those things, or if you don’t follow certain rules, your claim can be completely tossed out,” Ross said. “You run the risk of having your case thrown out or getting a judgement that prevents you from trying to present your case again.”
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Consumers looking for a lemon law attorney should conduct meticulous research on lemon law firms, looking for positive online reviews as well as extensive legal and educational backgrounds on the attorneys working there. While you should check to see what states the attorneys are licensed for, the attorney can tell you whether they can or can’t take your claim based on geography alone.
Gather Your Documentation
Once you’ve found a lemon law attorneywilling to take on your claim, the first thing they will ask you for is your documentation. These are all the documents you’ve collected since you purchased the vehicle and every record of every repair attempt. Every time you take the vehicle back to the dealership or a manufacturer’s repair center, you should ask for and keep written records of every repair attempt. This documentation forms the foundation of your lemon law claim. Your attorney will ask for all these records, and won’t even begin the claims process until they’ve had time to go over the documents in detail.
The attorneys of Allen Stewart P.C. have combined decades of taking on automotive manufacturers when they fail to uphold their end of their written warranties. They have a proven track record of fighting big companies on behalf of their clients and getting positive outcomes for them. If your vehicle’s manufacturer doesn’t hold up their end of the warranty, the lemon law experts at Allen Stewart P.C. make sure you get the justice you deserve. The longer you wait the less likely you are to secure a good outcome, so reach out to Allen Stewart P.C. today.