Saturday, May 1, 2010

What is lemon law?

LEMON LAW

The word lemon was used in the 1800s to describe sour or unfriendly people. In 1909, the word lemon was a synonym for a "worthless thing" in the slang sense, and today it refers to defective or broken things or things which break constantly such as computers, cars, boats, motorcycles, and wheelchairs. The federal lemon law provides a remedy for American citizens who purchase cars but fail to meet standards of performance and quality. In most states, lemon law covers used or leased cars and the rights of consumers may exceed the warranties in the purchase contracts.

If you think you have a lemon or breach of warranty case, you need to contact an experienced lemon law attorney in your state to handle the case because the definition of a lemon varies from state to state. For example, motorcycles are covered in some states and excluded in others. The initial consultation to determine whether you have a case or not ought to be free of charge, therefore, your lemon law attorney should do a "free case evaluation" for you to determine your rights under your state's laws (no "up front" fees for taking the case). In case it turns out you do have a lemon law case, you may be entitled to a refund or replacement vehicle.

Your car is a lemon if it is has a defect, such as:
  • a problem with the car engine and/or transmission,
  • brakes and/or steering (in this case, the manufacturer is granted 1 attempt to repair a serious safety defect and 2  attempts to repair a safety defect that is not considered serious)
  • water and/or oil leaks,
  • paint defects,
  • bad smell emersions,
  • unusual vibrations or rattles,
  • electrical problems,
  • any other problem that you attempted to have repaired multiple times.

The documentation needed for your case evaluation
The documentation  needed for having your case evaluated must include your vehicle's defects and the efforts of getting those defects repaired. Since the application of the lemon law rules varies by state, have your attorney advise you in the matter, for he or she will know whether your state takes into consideration:
  • 4 repair attempts or more,
  • 2 repairs of defects posing a serious safety threat,
  • the defects having caused the vehicle to be out of service for 30 days or more (due to repair during the first year of ownership).
Repair invoices
You must keep all your repair invoices and make sure that they include the exact date when you brought the car for repair and when you picked up the car. Your complaints should be written in your own words, and if you yourself financed the purchase of the car, get the documentation from the original vehicle purchase transaction and the payment book.

The Magnuson-Moss Warranty Act
 The lemon law is based on the Magnuson-Moss Warranty Act providing protection for the buyer of any product that costs more than $25 but  does not perform as it should (including an express written warranty). This law particularly affects the rights of car buyers since the written warranty gives the buyer the choice to refund or replace the vehicle. In most cases, lemon manufacturers undergo the "three strikes and you're out" principle, which means they are given three attempts to fix the defect.
One of the basic guidelines of the lemon law shared by all  states, is that the defects must occur in a warranty rights period set up of 12 – 24 months or 12,000 – 24,000 miles. The states that allow attorney's fees count for a better success in warranty disputes, but only about one half allows the consumer to recover the fees.