On average, the lemon law covers vehicles that show a problem or problems in a major part of the car. The problems must become obvious within the first twelve to twenty-four months (or 12,000 to 24,000 miles) of ownership.
The defect cannot be something minor such as flaws in the paint job, minor repairs, or cosmetic wear. It must be something that needs repeated repairs within the time frame. The timeline and major problem or problems prove the car is unsafe or inoperable.
After purchase, your car may need some repairs. This is not the time to look into the lemon law. Initial repairs should be covered under your vehicle guarantee or extended service contract. A vehicle service contract and an extended guarantee cover different time lengths and parts of the car. Read your vehicle service contract to decide time and parts covered; some provide free repairs for all parts for the first six months. The lemon law applies after you use the vehicle warranty for repairs and continue to experience numerous problems with the car.
Most states do not cover used cars under the lemon law. The exception is if it was sold as a “Certified Used Vehicle”. This label makes the car “new” in terms of the lemon law. A certified used vehicle means the automobile has a vehicle service contract from the manufacturer.
The manufacturer does not cover an extended guarantee. Instead, extended warranties are bought through the dealer as a type of insurance. Extended warranties provide some repairs beyond the regular vehicle service contract. Remember to read what is covered under your vehicle’s extended warranties. Specific parts of your car may be repaired, while others are only covered in the original vehicle guarantee.
To qualify under the lemon law, you must show the car’s problem or problems on the same part under the time frame for your state. If you take your vehicle to the repair shop for a transmission problem that occurs frequently and cannot be fixed, then your car will likely qualify. If the car needs repairs on different parts, such as the radiator and a different problem in the transmission, then it probably will not qualify. Most states do allow the putting right of related parts, which shows the car’s major problem or problems. Remember to always keep paperwork on all repairs.
The dealer has a responsibility to make necessary repairs under the lemon law. The dealer has the right to keep the vehicle up to 30 days total in the shop. The dealer must attempt repairs – up to three to four times for issues causing the car to be inoperable, such as shaking. The dealer is allowed up to one to two times to correct grave issues such as repairing brakes or steering. The number of repairs allowed by the lemon law is determined state by state.
Your vehicle will likely qualify if the car needs repeated service contract repairs to the same part after your purchase. If the dealer cannot sort out the repairs in the state’s time frame guideline, then your car may qualify for compensation or replacement under the lemon law, and it is time to consult with a lemon law attorney.