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Consumer Lemon Law

Car warranty vs lemon law

Key Takeaways

Lemon Law vs. Manufacturer Warranty: Lemon laws offer broader protection than manufacturer warranties, covering persistent defects that warranties may not address.

Determining Lemon Law Eligibility: A vehicle may be considered a lemon if it has a significant defect not rectified after a reasonable number of repair attempts.

The Role of Legal Assistance: Hiring a lemon law attorney can significantly increase the chances of a favorable outcome in complex lemon law cases.

Coming to terms that your new car has a defect that is not going away is stressful. Usually buying a new car and driving it off the lot buys you at least a couple of years of not worrying about repairs outside of the traditional maintenance. 

But what if that’s not the case? Now with EV’s and their emerging technology growing in popularity, consumers need to be aware of possible defects that could affect how dependable that EV really is.

That’s why I decided to provide clarity below on where the warranty ends and the Lemon Law begins. For some, this might provide some guidance of when to lean on the manufacturer’s warranty and when to lean on the Lemon Law.

Lemon Law vs. Manufacturer Warranty: What's The Difference?

When you buy a new car, you’re protected by two key things: the manufacturer’s warranty and the Lemon Law. Both offer different kinds of protection for your vehicle, but they work in different ways.

While the warranty covers repairs for typical issues, the Lemon Law is there for when things go seriously wrong and the warranty falls short. Knowing how both work gives you the power to ensure your new car purchase is protected.

Key Differences

Scope of Coverage:

  1. A manufacturer’s warranty is a promise from the carmaker. It says if something goes wrong with your car due to manufacturing issues, they’ll fix it for free within a certain time or mileage. This warranty usually covers most repairs and defects.
  2. The Lemon Law steps in when your new car has a big problem that the warranty can’t fix. It’s a law that helps you when your car keeps having the same issue, even after several repairs under the warranty.
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Purpose and Protection:

  1. The manufacturer’s warranty is there to assure you that your car will work as promised for a certain period. It’s about fixing problems that come up during normal use.
  2. Lemon Law is your backup. If your car turns out to be a “lemon” – meaning it has a serious defect that can’t be fixed – this law helps you get a replacement or refund. It’s about making things right when the warranty isn’t enough [6].
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When to Invoke Lemon Law: Assessing Repair Attempts for Your Defective Vehicle

Ready to file a Lemon Law Claim?

When you’ve bought a car that’s under warranty and it turns out to have a defect, it’s crucial to know when to consider invoking the Lemon Law. This law is designed to protect consumers from being stuck with a “lemon,” that will affect it’s value, and help you get a replacement vehicle that you can depend on.

Understanding the Threshold for Lemon Law

Number of Repair Attempts:

Generally, the Lemon Law comes into play when a reasonable number of attempts have been made to repair the vehicle. This number can vary depending on the severity of the defect and the state you are in.

For many states, the law presumes a reasonable number of attempts if the vehicle has been in for repair three or four times for the same problem.

Severity of the Defect:

The seriousness of the defect plays a significant role. In some cases, as few as two repair attempts for a serious defect that impacts the vehicle’s safety or usability might be enough to qualify under the Lemon Law.

Now you are probably asking yourself, “What’s a serious defect?”. Serious defects prevent the car from performing its basic functions. For example, issues with the engine, transmission, or other major components that hinder the vehicle’s ability to be driven.

Time Frame Consideration:

Another factor is the amount of time the vehicle has been out of service due to repairs. If your car has been in the shop for an extended period, typically around 30 days over the course of a year, this could also meet the criteria for a Lemon Law claim.

Next Steps

If you find yourself in this situation, it’s advisable to keep detailed records of all repair attempts and consult with a legal expert specializing in Lemon Law to understand your rights and the specific requirements in your state.

Lemon Law Claims: Should I DIY or Hire an Attorney?

Meeting with your Lemon Law attorney

When faced with a potential lemon law claim, you might wonder whether to handle it yourself or seek legal assistance. Your time is a huge factor in that decision which should not be made on a whim. 

The Lemon Law is Complex

Lemon law cases can be intricate, involving detailed legal processes and negotiations. While it’s not mandatory to have a lemon lawyer, professional legal guidance can significantly enhance your chances of a successful outcome.

Avoid the learning curve and surround yourself with professionals that know the law inside and out.

The Risks of DIY Lemon Law Claims

The devil is in the details and a Lemon Law claim has a lot of moving parts that you could miss. You might miss critical legal nuances or fail to negotiate effectively with manufacturers, potentially weakening your case.

There’s a risk of losing out on the full compensation you deserve or even having your claim dismissed due to procedural errors or inadequate representation of your case.

Benefits of Hiring a Lemon Law Attorney

A specialized lemon law attorney brings expertise and experience, increasing the likelihood of a favorable outcome. They understand the intricacies of the law and can effectively navigate the legal system on your behalf.

Many lemon law attorneys work on a contingency basis, meaning they only get paid if you win your case. This arrangement can provide peace of mind and financial security.

Deciding between DIY and hiring an attorney for a lemon law claim depends on your comfort with legal processes and the complexity of your case. While self-representation is possible, the expertise of a specialized attorney often proves invaluable in securing a just outcome.

How to file a lemon law claim

Lemon Law and Manufacturer's Warranty FAQs

Lemon laws protect against persistent vehicle defects, while manufacturer warranties cover repairs and defects within a specific period after purchase.

This varies by state, but typically a vehicle is considered a lemon if the defect persists after 2-4 repair attempts or if the vehicle is out of service for a certain number of days.

While it’s possible, lemon law claims can be complex. Hiring an attorney can provide expertise and increase the likelihood of a successful claim.

This depends on the state. Some lemon laws cover used vehicles if they are still under the original manufacturer’s warranty.

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