Lemon Law statutes, attorney general advice, how to proceed with your Lemon Law complaint.      NEW - LEMON-LAW BLOG

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Are here to protect you if your problem vehicle is under the manufacturer's warranty, or if you had reported problems while under warranty, and those problems do not get fixed. The Lemon Law in some states also covers used vehicles. Most also cover leased vehicles. Here's a universal checklist for what you must be doing now to document your claim.

 

 

Your state Lemon Law may make the manufacturer pay you cash for the diminished value of your vehicle or refund your purchase price. You may be able to recover money damages from the manufacturer even if you already sold or traded the defective vehicle. If you are already at wit's end with your car or truck and you want to buy another one then go to an online marketplace like Auto Trader.  

 

There are 50 states Lemon Law, with a different twist. There are lots of misconceptions about Lemon Law rights. You could still be eligible to recover money damages if you're outside the manufacturer's warranty period if the first repair attempt was during the covered period. The statutes read like you must bring suit within 1 or 2 years, but you may have up to 5 years to file suit against the manufacturer. Manufacturers may try to hustle you into arbitration but in many states you have no obligation to arbitrate before filing a civil suit.

 

If you are successful in your claim you could receive a refund from the manufacturer of these amounts:

  • the full contract price including, but not limited to, charges for undercoating, dealer-preparation and installed options, plus

  • the non-refundable portions of extended warranties and service contracts (you may want to consider a private extended auto warranty), plus

  • all collateral charges, including but not limited to, sales tax, license and registration fees, plus

  • all finance charges you incurred after you first reported the problem to the manufacturer, or authorized dealer, plus

  • any incidental damages (e.g. car rentals), less a reasonable allowance for your use of the vehicle.

The most common Lemon Law defects are with:

  • Engine, Transmission

  • Suspension, Steering or Brakes

  • Electrical System, Safety Equipment

  • Body, Paint & Interior

  • Heating / Air Conditioning

  • Water and Air Leaks

  • Loud or Unusual Noises

If you want to be a smart consumer about the Lemon Law in your state, and there are differences, start with your own state's Lemon Law statute. It defines the elements that are necessary to prove your case, such as what kinds of vehicles are covered, how many repair attempts it takes to qualify, and the length of the statute of limitations for a Lemon Law claim. Read everything that the states attorney generals have to say, even if it's from another state. NJ Lemon Law information is excellent. Some are more informative than others. Here's a sample letter to the manufacturer from one state attorney general that could be used almost everywhere.

Call your states Consumer Affairs office. It's usually attached to the governor's office or the attorney general's office. Here's the telephone numbers for all the state attorneys general. You can find out if your vehicle is subject to any recalls, or has been the focus of consumer complaints, or learn if there are any manufacturer's Technical Service Bulletins (TSB) about your vehicle at NHTSA Office of Defects Investigation website. If there is a TSB that could be a tip-off that there may be a manufacturer's secret warranty for a particular model.

If you get to the lawyer hiring stage be a smart consumer and don't get stuck with another lemon. Are her fees upfront and will you have to wait until your case is settled with the manufacturer to get reimbursed? Will a lawyer getting paid on the clock be motivated to move your case along? If her fees are contingent on winning the case, what about costs?  Expert witnesses, court reporters, travel expenses, and office administrative costs can add up pretty quickly. Some lawyers absorb these costs and others will not. Surprises here are usually unpleasant. That being said, some lawyers specialize in Lemon Law litigation and can offer a high level of expertise that will move your Lemon Law case faster and for a better result than you could get on your own.

 

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