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The lemon law is a state’s law that provides some remedy for purchasers of an auto that fails to meet quality standards. If you bought a car, and it quits running the next day, you might have bought a lemon. Hopefully, your state will agree, but the laws vary from state to state. Some states don’t cover used cars.

State and Federal Law

Most states provide a re-course of action leading to a replacement, a fix, or a refund within a specified period of time. Federal lemon laws cover mechanical problems. Almost every state, in order to enforce the lemon law, requires that your purchase must include a warranty. Any vehicle purchased “as-is” probably won’t be covered by the Federal or your state’s lemon laws.

Knowing the Difference between Warranties

You need to know the difference between an “express warranty” and an “implied warranty,” too. An express warranty is written. You have a signed piece of paper from the seller, guaranteeing some level of performance and mechanical stability. An “implied warranty” is not written and is based on basic assumptions about your vehicle’s condition. Again, each state has a different definition of what constitutes an implied warranty, so be sure to understand your state’s position on implied warranties.

I like Lemon Law website for state-by-state information. The only consistency seems to be that you cannot take action in your state if your seller, and your purchased vehicle were in another state. Your car is considered “out of service” while being repaired or waiting for repair parts.

Lemon Law

What to Expect

A typical lemon law might cover vehicles purchased or leased or registered in that state used for personal, family or household purposes. You must have made a specified number of repair attempts or the vehicle must have been out of service for a certain number of days. The repair attempts must have occurred with a certain number of miles or within your time noted on the warranty.

It’s important that you keep all the paperwork and documentation about your requests for repair and the repair attempts. If you decide to pursue your state’s lemon law coverage, make sure you know about the requirements to bring about your course of action. Different states have different “notices” requirements (certified letter with return receipt, a copy to the manufacturer’s consumer relations office…), so know how soon and in what way you need to provide notice to your auto dealer, seller, or manufacturer.

A vehicle purchase is an expensive purchase. You can minimize the odds that your bought a lemon when you work with reputable dealers and investigate the type of car you want on the internet before you buy.Otherwise, let the buyer beware.

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