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How lemon laws work

by | Apr 3, 2020 | Lemon Law

When someone buys a used vehicle, generally the notion of caveat emptor, or buyer beware, comes into play. Generally, with a used vehicle, there are no implied warranties or guarantees about its workmanship or condition unless specifically stated. The same logic doesn’t apply to new car sales, though.

Lemon laws generally apply to new vehicle purchases only. These pieces of legislation are designed to protect buyers from purchasing defective new vehicles. If a buyer’s vehicle has a known defect that makes it unsafe, inoperable, or unfixable, then lemon laws may require the manufacturer to either cure the defect or to compensate the individual who bought it.

Virtually every jurisdiction has lemon laws in place. Some states only allow for a defect to be attempted to be repaired a certain number of times before a vehicle is deemed a lemon. Georgia, for example, gives manufacturers three attempts to make things right. Arizona allows them four. Some vehicles, such as motor homes, are excluded from lemon law protection in some jurisdictions including in Colorado.

Lemon laws generally only apply to vehicles used for personal use.

Individuals who file lemon law claims aren’t always successful in getting a dealer or manufacturer to reimburse them the full car price. There are laws on the books that allow manufacturers in some states to simply offer a replacement vehicle of equal value to the one that a buyer purchased. In some states, the buyer can reject the manufacturer’s offer.

A vehicle must generally pass one or more of several litmus tests before it’s classified as a lemon. The car needs to have a substantial defect, such as an issue with its transmission, engine, or brakes. It must have limited mileage on it. The buyer must have made multiple failed attempts to resolve the issue. The vehicle needs to have spent 30 days at a repair shop during the last year.

You may need to send the manufacturer a letter detailing the issue(s) with the vehicle, repairs attempted and the solution requested to get the claims process started. A lemon law attorney here in Charleston can advise you of the next steps that you’ll need to take if doing that fails to result in the manufacturer taking any proactive action in your West Virginia case.

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