As far as purchases go, few are bigger than buying a new vehicle in Charleston. By “new,” many assume that to mean a brand new vehicle fresh from a manufacturer’s assembly line. Yet in reality, many of the 17.22 million vehicles that the National Automobile Dealers Association reports were sold in 2018 were previously used. The nightmare shared by every buyer of a used car is that they will be saddled with a lemon, yet local lemon laws protect them by putting the responsibility on dealers and manufacturers to deal with defective vehicles. How the law requires that such vehicles be dealt with can cause quite a bit of confusion.
Many immediately assume that a dealer must replace a defective vehicle. Yet West Virginia’s lemon law only calls for vehicle replacement after a reasonable number of attempts have been made to repair the defect that is causing the vehicle to be inoperable or unsafe. Some might think that the term “reasonable number of attempts” is open to interpretation, yet the law is quite clear in its expectations.
According to the Better Business Bureau, West Virginia’s lemon law defines this term as follows:
- Three or more attempts to correct a nonconformity to express warranty standards
- One attempt to address a defect that causes the vehicle to present a heightened risk of death or serious bodily injury to the one driving it
- An attempt to address a problem that has kept the vehicle out of service for a cumulative total of more than 30 calendar days
It should be remembered that this standard is only applicable to licensed automobile dealers. Private sellers are not subject to lemon laws.