There are three pieces of legislation that you need to know if you ever have to deal with a lemon car case. They include state lemon laws (sometimes referred to as warranty laws) that show differences as you move from one state to another, the Federal Magnuson-Moss Warranty Act and Uniform Commercial Code (UCC). If your own state’s lemon law doesn’t cover your case, you can safeguard your rights by going for the other two.
Let’s have a closer look at these laws. A state lemon law is legislation that deals with those vehicles that show persistent defect(s) and defines:
1) in what cases the manufacturer breaches the warranty and
2) what the consumer is entitled to if the warranty is breached. Normally, the customer has the right to claim a refund or a new replacement.
The lemon law is effective only if the vehicle comes with an express written warranty and only during the warranty period. In most states it covers new cars that have been purchased to be used for family, personal or household purposes. A car bought for business purposes is not covered by the state lemon law, but can be refunded or replaced under the Magnuson-Moss Act or Uniform Commercial Code (UCC).
If you are reduced to seeking justice, the action that you need to take depends on the state where you originally bought or registered your vehicle. In some of them, launching a written complaint is enough, while in others you will have to hire an attorney. Anyway, if your car dealer or manufacturer are unable to satisfy your claim, you first go to arbitration and, if necessary, to a court of law to resolve the dispute. And it is the manufacturer, not the car dealer, that you take to court.
The Magnuson-Moss Act is a federal lemon law. It is a forebear of all state laws and serves as a backstop recourse when state laws don’t help. Its mission is to protect the buyer from manufacturers breaching warranty. If your attorney chooses to sue under the Magnuson-Moss Act, the manufacturer has to pay your attorney’s fees (if you win the case). It relates to vehicles and other personal property priced $25 and above purchased “for purposes other than resale”. The law was enforced in 1975 and covers products acquired after July 4 that year.
The Magnuson-Moss Act deals with both “full” and “limited” warranties. The case can be taken to court with a valid cause of action even after the warranty has expired, provided the defect appeared in the vehicle during the period of warranty.
Lastly there’s the Uniform Commercial Code (UCC). This law grants the customer the right to claim a refund or a new vehicle replacement, if the defect(s) present in the car have proved to continue after several attempts (“a reasonable amount of attempts”) have been made to repair the problem component. The threshold of proof is defined by the particular state law.
If you decide to take action against the manufacturer of a lemon vehicle, you can study the laws and do it yourself, but usually it’s best to hire an attorney, who can do it quicker and more efficiently, with his fees recovered by the manufacturer should you be successful.