In all 50 states and at the Federal level, there are laws designed to protect consumers who purchase an automobile that has been found to have a defect. In ‘auto’ language, a defect is a vehicle that has a problem that impairs its safety, value, and use, which has made it incapable of being driven. Consumer protection is a long standing tradition in the US and the history of automotive laws is no different.
So, exactly what is this law? A Lemon law mandates that if a vehicle produced is found to be defective, the manufacturer must acknowledge the defect and take the appropriate steps to either compensate the owner or provide the purchaser or lessee of the defective vehicle with a suitable replacement. Vehicles that qualify as a lemon are those used for household and personal use, and the attempts at repair must have been undertaken within the first two years or 18, 000 miles. As well, the vehicle must still be under the manufacturer’s warranty. Each state’s law will vary so it is important to check with your particular state’s laws. Generally, these laws cover used, purchased, and leased vehicles. After several attempts at fixing the vehicle fail, the vehicle will be deemed a ‘lemon’ and then fall under that state’s lemon law.
The history of the lemon law goes back to 1906 with the implementation of The Uniform Sales Act. This act was the first attempt at combining a number of United States commerce laws under a single classification. In 1952, The Uniform Commercial Code was instituted to try to harmonize all of the commerce laws. In 1970, The Song – Beverly Consumer Warranty Act was established to help protect consumers from defective products and was a precursor to state lemon laws. In 1975, The Federal Lemon Law known as The Magnuson-Moss Act was passed. This act gives consumers a legal way to get compensation for a car deemed a lemon. Consumers have the right to full compensation or replacement of equal value for a defective vehicle. As well, manufactures must pay for a consumer’s legal fees if they are found to have violated the lemon law.
Each state has created their particular version of the law. If you feel you have a ‘lemon,’ and have not received compensation or replacement, you have the right to take the manufacturer to civil court. If you do sue a manufacturer, it would be beneficial to enlist the services of an experienced and qualified Attorney that specializes in Lemon law litigation. A specialized attorney understands the lemon law and will work on your behalf to secure the appropriate compensation for your defective vehicle.