Understanding Buyer Rights When You Purchase a Lemon


Nobody sets out to purchase a lemon, but unfortunately, every once in a while these things happen.

When you buy a car, the last thing you’ll want is to find that it’s defective. A serious defect could lead to the car being inoperable, dangerous, or costly.

What are your buyer rights when you’ve bought a defective vehicle? The lemon laws are there to protect you but how do these laws work?

In this article, we’ll talk you through everything you should do if you accidentally buy a lemon.

What Is the Lemon Law?

If you buy an automobile that has defects, you’ll very quickly need to learn more about lemon laws. The lemon law is legislation designed to protect buyers during a car purchase. It also protects consumers who have taken out lease hire agreements.

This legislation is in place to protect anyone who buys a vehicle that has a serious problem that could make it risky to drive. It also protects motorists who cannot use their vehicle because it’s in the repair shop getting fixed much of the time.

When a car has a problem that causes it to be dangerous to drive, it may need to go to the manufacturer for repair. When this isn’t possible, it could end up being in the garage for a long time.

When the car spends more time in the garage than on the road, the manufacturer has an obligation to buy the vehicle back.

Lemon laws do vary between states, however, generally speaking, the requirement is that any automobile manufacturer buys back any vehicle with a significant defect unless it can be repaired within a reasonable amount of time.

When Is a Car Considered to Be a Lemon?

It’s essential to clarify that not every defective vehicle is considered to be a lemon. What is the specific definition?

  • Where a new vehicle has one serious fault or defect making it unsafe to drive or causing a reduction in the vehicle’s value
  • Where a car has to spend more than 30 days in the repair shop because it’s got a serious defect that stops the car from being driven
  • This could be 30 successive days, or collectively

If either of these criteria are met, then the car is a lemon.

How Does the Lemon Law Work?

When you purchase a new vehicle, it’ll be covered by a warranty. During this period, you would usually return the vehicle to its manufacturer or the dealer that you bought it from. You would expect the problem to be addressed straight away.

Problems do occur is a small number of cars. Once fixed, though, you shouldn’t expect the same problems to keep recurring.

When an issue continues to resurface, the lemon law is there for consumer protection, and to ensure the buyer gets an adequate resolution to the problem.

It’s important to know what’s covered by lemon laws. Here are several factors that the law considers.

  • What type of issue the vehicle has
  • How many times it’s been into the repair shop
  • How many days in total the vehicle has been off the road for

If no repair occurs within the specified time frame set out in the state laws, then the manufacturer must buy back the vehicle.

It’s important to note that it should be the manufacturer, not the dealer, that must buy back the car.

How Does the Lemon Law Differ Across the States?

As previously mentioned, there are several differences between the lemon law in different states. The states that have the best lemon laws are Rhode Island, Washington, and New Jersey.

In certain states, only particular weights and classifications of vehicles are covered by the law. In others, the vehicle must be for personal use and not be used for business purposes.

All states with a lemon law cover new cars, however, some states cover used cars too.

Does the Lemon Law Go Above the Warranty?

The lemon law gives vehicle owners support that goes above what is set out in the manufacturer’s warranty.

The car’s warranty might state that the manufacturer will give free repairs for any defects, they might not specify a timeframe for this though.

A warranty won’t demand that the manufacturer buys the defective vehicle back if it isn’t repaired within a specified time.

Getting Consumer Rights Help For Your Lemon

If you’ve bought a car that is a lemon, and the manufacturer isn’t playing ball, then you may need the help of an attorney to get the justice you deserve.

Hiring a lawyer that specializes in lemon law will help your case dramatically as they can make sure your car’s manufacturer follows the lemon law to the letter.

If you were sold a vehicle that was a lemon and you were subsequently in an auto accident, then you may also need the assistance of a car accident lawyer.

Do You Know Your Buyer Rights?

If your car purchase turns sour and you have a lemon on your hands, then it pays to know your buyer rights. Buying a car that turns out to be faulty shouldn’t cost you. Use the lemon laws to get your money back.

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