Know a Lemon When You See One

by Robert Schwartz

Lemons are not always oval, yellow fruit, but they always leave a sour taste in your mouth. That is especially true with buying cars. If you buy a car that repeatedly has the same or different things wrong with it, it may be a lemon. Here is how to you tell if there is something you can do.

A car is a lemon if it has defects or problems that “substantially impair the use, value or safety of the car.” To impair the use, value or safety of a car, the defects or problems have to be pretty serious. These problems usually include engine, transmission, break, steering and electrical problems. They usually do not include rattles, flat tires, bad paint jobs, misaligned panels, scratches, nicks or other irritating but minor problems. Further, the dealer has to be given the opportunity to fix these problems. Dealers are not given an unlimited amount of attempts, though. Each state has a specific number of attempts —usually between two and five — the dealer can make. Lastly, the defects or problems have to occur within a specific maximum number of miles or months from the purchase.

So, for example, if within the first 12,000 miles or first year after you buy a car, you have a repeated problem with your car and the dealer has not been able to fix it after three or four tries, you likely have a sour taste in your mouth. The question is what to do about it. You may be entitled to a full refund of the purchase price, including the value of your trade-in vehicle if there was one. You may be entitled to a free replacement vehicle of similar make, model and options.

Remember that all states have lemon laws, but not all states’ lemon laws protect buyers of used and commercial vehicles. If you believe you have a lemon and need to discuss your consumer rights, call Bailey & Galyen.

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