A car purchase is a major investment that should never be taken lightly. While a lot of people are fine with spending a lot of money on a vehicle, there isn’t a single reasonable person who would be fine with wasting it. This is especially true when it’s a significant amount, as is the case when purchasing a car. We all want to get our money’s worth.
But sometimes, we end up with a lemon. Not all of us are well-versed when it comes to car-buying and car ownership. While most dealers are trustworthy, there are some unscrupulous dealers or private sellers that are out to defraud buyers. Luckily, there are buyer protection laws that help ensure that the average buyer isn’t preyed upon.
But, like any other law or right, you need to know the law or right that you intend to invoke before you’re able to benefit it. That’s where this article should serve you well, dear readers. So, what exactly are some laws you need to be aware of?
The Lemon Law
The Lemon Law is only applicable to cars that are sold brand new. When dealers sell a car brand new, it is with the buyer’s understanding that everything in the car is supposed to work fully functional like it’s brand new. You are choosing to buy a new car partially under the assumption that the car complies with quality standards set by the manufacturer for new vehicles. However, there are a few elements to consider before a car is deemed to be a “lemon”:
That the new car must have a substantial defect.
That the new car continues to suffer from the same defect despite a reasonable number of repair attempts.
Substantial Defect (Lemon Law)
For a defect to be deemed substantial and so it may fall within coverage of the Lemon Law, the defect must be one that impairs the car’s utility, safety, and ofcourse, value. Not only that, but it must be proven that the defect did not come as a result to the owner’s use of the car after purchase. There is also a prescriptive period that varies between states. For example: in New Jersey, a written lemon law-related complaint must be filed to the dealer or manufacturer within two years of delivery or 24,000 miles, whichever comes first. There are many ways that dealers can remedy the issue. But if no agreement can be made, the complaint escalates into an arbitration. If both parties refuse the arbitration, it then becomes an adjudication, more commonly known as a lawsuit.
Used Car Rule
While there are lemon laws that are tailored for transactions that involve used cars, they are not as effective as the used car rule. The used car rule mandates used car dealers to post a buyers’ guide before they display a vehicle for sale. They are also mandated to let a buyer inspect the vehicle even when it is not yet ready for delivery.
The buyers’ guide should contain important information such as vehicle specifications, what major defects the buyer should look out for, what percentage of the repair costs a dealer will shoulder under warranty, etc. These are measures that do not put the seller at a disadvantage while also protecting the buyer from fraud.
Now, if you’ve been a victim of fraud, the very first thing you need to do is to consult the expertise of a seasoned lemon law attorney. They also handle cases such as Auto Dealership Discrimination and out-of-state Lemon Law cases. The help of a specialist is especially vital considering how Lemon Laws vary between states.