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Most people realize that laws protect them against paying for a car that has repair issues. What actually makes a car a lemon, though? Does the term apply to one you don’t like for some reason and what about minor repairs? How do you deal with a company that claims your car doesn’t fit the criteria? And should you pursue legal action if you are driving a lemon? The Lemon Law is only a powerful tool if you know how to use it.

Lemon Defined

The laws vary from state to state, but they all follow the same base criteria. A lemon is a vehicle that shows a problem almost immediately after purchase. As a consumer, it is your responsibility to report this issue to the dealer right away. From there, the car company must repair the vehicle under the warranty. If that problem persists even after the repair, the car might unfixable, and therefore, a lemon. The problem must cause substantial impairment of the vehicle, reduce the value of the car or be a safety concern in order for the law to apply in most states. In other words, a car that won’t start for weeks at a time would qualify. However, if the light in the glove box keeps going out, that might not be an actionable claim. It just has to be a major problem that would not allow the car to run as properly as it should.

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What to Do with a Lemon?

This law deals with unfixable vehicles. In other words, the maximum remedy is a complete refund including down payment, taxes and finance charges. The seller has the right to deduct a small mileage offset. The amount varies by state. On average, the mileage fee is around 10 cents per mile driven before you report the problem to the dealer. Make sure you know what the amount is in your state before going forward.

What If a Car Doesn’t Meet the Requirements?

The Lemon Law is not the only recourse consumers have when it comes to buying a car. The Magnuson Moss Warranty Act is a federal law that says if you keep paying repeatedly for repair work on a car but continues to have issues; the company is violating the warranty. In this case, a lawyer will get you at least a partial refund based on the Kelly Blue Book value.

The best approach to dealing with a lemon car is to contact an attorney if the seller is not cooperating. The law offers a fee-shifting provision that means if you prevail; the dealer or service center must pay all legal fees. Given that provision, there is no reason not to seek legal advice when you need help.

Buying a car is a complex, and sometimes scary, endeavor. Once you purchase, don’t hesitate to go to the dealer with a problem or seek a legal remedy. Once you do, you will be advised as to how the Lemon Law applies to you. You should be able to drive a car off the lot without any issues whatsoever, so there is no reason a consumer must live with a lemon.

Mike has been helping people understand the lemon law and has always assisted those who were driving lemons and did not know what kind of car they were going to get.