Every state has its own version of the Lemon Law. California was the first to enact one in 1970, and to date has the most comprehensive legislation. Every states’ version of the lemon law strives to ensure that a defective product (car) is not sold, and if it is, the vehicle should be repurchased or replaced.
Most states define a lemon law car as a car that has a major or chronic problem. A lemon car has to have spent more than 30 days in the repair shop, have had at least four attempts made at replacing or repairing the same problem area, and most of all, the problem area must be covered under your manufacturer’s guarantee. If the vehicle’s problem is not covered under the manufacturer’s warranty, then it does not qualify for lemon law.
Before you seek legal advice, give your dealer a good chance to repair the vehicle, and go up the ‘chain of command’ talking to a service manager or even the distribution outlet manager before deciding to go to arbitration or court.
Keep records of all repairs on your car, make sure your receipt clearly states your concern, the mechanic’s diagnosis, ‘the cause’, and how the problem was fixed – ‘the correction’. All together these three factors are sometimes called a ‘story.’ Make sure you have one for every visit to the distribution outlet and that it is signed by your service representative, be specific it has the times and dates on it too.
When you do decide to seek legal advice, lookup the Better Business Bureau online. “lemonlaw.bbb.org” has many facts by state and in most cases is the first step to filing your lemon law claim via e-file. The BBB also sometimes serves as an arbitrator or will refer you to a Lemon Law arbitration firm.
You should also seek a lemon law attorney at this point, again there is a list on the BBB website, it will also be in an advertisement for the lawyer. Seek references for your lawyer and look at his/her record, do they win? Does the lawyer look you in the eye and treat you sincerely? If not, find another lawyer. Your attorney can help you decide whether to arbitrate or take it to court.
An arbitrator is a third party that both the manufacturer and the person filing the complaint agree upon to decide the outcome of the lemon law case. The arbitrator’s decision is legally binding and there are no appeals. This course can be the best if you feel you have a clear cut Lemon Law case and do not wish to spend allot of time and money on a long court process.
The details of lemon law are different from state to state, but the gist of each of them is the same – to protect the purchaser. With a little research you’ll be well prepared to take the course of action you deem appropriate.