What You Should Do If Sold a Lemon


Is your car a lemon? The term lemon refers to a car that has so many problems with it that it leaves a bitter taste in your mouth, though it looked like a delicious deal. What should you do if you think you were sold a lemon?

Document Everything

The first step is to document everything wrong with the car. This may start when you take your new or new to you used car in for flashing warning lights or weird noises and the mechanic tells you everything that’s wrong with the car. You should get their report regarding what’s wrong with the car. If possible, get a second and third opinion so that you have both a full list of what is wrong and multiple estimates of how much it costs to make the car serviceable. If you had to repair serious issues shortly after buying the vehicle, you can use the repair bill in your case against the car dealer and get compensated for what you already paid out of pocket. Total up all related costs, such as the cost of a rental car while your new one was in the shop and parts you bought to try to diagnose and repair the issue yourself.

Understand the Lemon Laws

A lemon law explained simply would be a law to protect car buyers from fraud by dealers who sold them very defective cars. A lemon law gives you recourse if the car is worth much less than you thought, unsafe or undrivable because of multiple problems with the car.

These issues must be serious, unrepairable and affect the usability or performance of the car. For example, minor paint defects and loose door handles and knobs in a used car don’t count. Minor issues that were reported at the time of sale don’t count. A major problem known to the buyer doesn’t count. After all, the dealer doesn’t have to give you a refund when you bought the car knowing about the hail damage. Nor can you claim coverage under the lemon law if you’ve been driving the car for a long time. Depending on the jurisdiction, lemon laws may not count after you’ve driven the car for a certain period of time or a specific number of miles.

Take Action

What is your recourse? This depends on the dealer and the severity of the problem. The dealer is supposed to repair the issue if they cam This is why the first step when you think you have a dealer is to show your documentation and ask them to either repair the problem or pay you back for what you had to fix. However, they are only allowed to try to remedy the problem several times before they have to refund your vehicle purchase or replace the car. Know that even in states that lack a lemon law, federal law makes car sellers liable for such repairs as do state laws to protect consumers.

For severe problems, they may simply replace the vehicle. They’re supposed to replace it with a comparable vehicle. If they can’t fix it after a certain amount of time, they have to let you choose between a replacement or a refund, too. This prevents dealerships from dragging things out to cause the consumer to give up.

Follow the Rules

You’ll usually be required to take the vehicle to the dealer for repairs several times under the warranty and under the lemon laws. Don’t jump to a lawsuit unless you already paid for major repair bills due to a vehicle emergency or were injured because of the vehicle’s defects. 

Written by Lewis Shaw

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