Oregon Expands Lemon Law

Posted by Sergei Lemberg, Esq. on July 30th, 2009

At the end of June, Oregon Governor Ted Kulongoski signed SB 515 into law, thus expanding Lemon Law protections for the state’s citizens. Senator Suzanne Bonamici (D), who sponsored the bill, said, “Twenty-two states have lemon laws that cover consumers for a longer period of time than Oregon. This bill should improve consumer confidence when it comes to making an investment in a new car.”

The new law reduces the “reasonable number of attempts” to repair a defective vehicle from four to three, and no longer requires multiple repair attempts for a life-threatening defect. The law also includes a provision that requires the state’s Department of Transportation to label a vehicle’s title a “Lemon Law Buyback,” when that is the case.

According to Senate Majority Leader Richard Devlin, “People don’t have time to be constantly taking their car into the shop for the same problem. If they purchase a car, they do so with the expectation that the vehicle is dependable and safe. They shouldn’t have to jump through hoops if the car turns out to have serious defects.”

New Jersey Legislature Approves Lemon Law Expansion

Posted by Sergei Lemberg, Esq. on July 29th, 2009

The New Jersey Legislature approved Senate bill 454 (Buono-D), which would expand the period covered by the state’s lemon law. Under the bill, which awaits the governor’s action, new vehicles would be covered for two years or 24,000 miles (whichever comes first). Existing law limits mileage to 18,000 miles.

In addition, the bill enables consumers whose defective vehicles could cause serious injury or death to file a lemon law claim after a single repair attempt, after which the manufacturer would have one attempt to fix the vehicle. Furthermore, the bill mandates that vehicle manufacturers provide consumers with information about lemon law protection separate from other manuals and paperwork, and that the information be provided in both English and Spanish.

According to Senator Buono, “This change is reasonable and sorely needed since current usage patterns and needs have changed considerably. Drivers commute to work much farther than when the law was enacted 18 years ago and subsequently consumers are finding their lemon law rights are limited to approximately a year of usage. In fact, the average consumer reaches the 18,000-mile limit after only 14 months. By broadening the window through which individuals can file claims to 24,000 miles or two years, we will be affording many hardworking New Jerseyans enhanced consumer protection.”

Advice for Oklahomans in Search of Used Cars

Posted by Sergei Lemberg, Esq. on July 28th, 2009

A recent column in Tulsa World serves as an important reminder that used cars in Oklahoma are sold “as is” unless there’s a written warranty. While new vehicles come with implied and express warranties, it’s all too easy to buy a used car lemon and have no avenue of redress. The column’s advice for would-be used car buyers? Get all terms in writing; remember that all sales are final, and make sure that the vehicle title is green (orange is for rebuilt vehicles, blue for junk vehicles, and red for salvage vehicles).

Cash for Clunkers Program in Full Swing

Posted by Sergei Lemberg, Esq. on July 27th, 2009

If you’ve been wanting a piece of the government’s economic bailout, now’s your chance. The Consumer Assistance Recycle and Save Act of 2009 (also known as “Cash for Clunkers”) is in full swing. CARS, as it is known, has a pool of $1 billion to help consumers trade in their cars for more fuel efficient vehicles (or, depending on your level of cynicism, a $1 billion handout for the auto industry). People who participate in this program can get a $3,500 or $4,000 discount when they trade in their old vehicle and buy or lease a new one. The program started on July 1, and will end November 30 or when funding runs out (whichever comes first).

As with any government program, there are a number of hoops to jump through and caveats to consider. The trade-in vehicle has to be less than 25 years old and get 18 MPG or less. It has to have been registered and insured for a full year prior to the trade-in, and the discount applies only to new vehicles (not used). The amount of the discount you receive depends upon a number of factors, but primarily relies on the increase in MPG from your old vehicle to your new vehicle.

If you’ve been thinking about buying a new car, or if your lemon isn’t protected under your state’s lemon law or applicable federal law, this just may be the time to do it. For more information, visit the government’s website, and review Edmunds’ information on the program.

Texas Lemon Law Report Published

Posted by Sergei Lemberg, Esq. on July 26th, 2009

The Texas Department of Transportation (TxDOT) recently released a lemon law report for the 2008 calendar year. The report says that Texans who purchased or leased defective new vehicles received $7.6 million in 2008, and more than $101 million since 1993.

The study found that close to 30% of those with lemons received replacements, buybacks, or trade-ins, while 28% received repairs, extended service contracts, or other remedies. According to Brett Bray, director of TxDOT’s Motor Vehicle Division, “The numbers indicate the Lemon Law continues to do what it is intended to do – help consumers with defective vehicles get relief.”

We wonder, though, what happened to the 42% of cases that weren’t resolved. We suspect that, if more consumers were represented by lemon law attorneys, the resolution numbers would be higher.

According to the TxDOT press release, “The Lemon Law Rules require that a manufacturer, distributor, or converter re-title a reacquired vehicle. The re-titling requirement facilitates enforcement of disclosure requirements and hinders what is known as “lemon laundering” or “title washing.” In the near future, the title will include a notice sufficient to inform a prospective purchaser that the vehicle was reacquired by the manufacturer under the Lemon Law.

“State law also requires manufacturers to issue a disclosure statement and hang the disclosure label from the view mirror and in the event that the vehicle does not have a rear view mirror the disclosure label must be affixed in a conspicuous location on vehicles ordered repurchased, replaced or reacquired to settle a Lemon Law complaint. The disclosure requirements are also mandatory for vehicles reacquired under another state’s Lemon Law and transferred to Texas for resale.”

So, if you’re looking at used cars in Texas, be on the lookout for that disclosure statement. You don’t want to buy someone else’s lemon.