Top 5 Misconceptions About Lemon Law
Most people know that Lemon Laws exist, but beyond that, their knowledge gets a bit fuzzy. That lack of knowledge can compromise their rights and can even prevent them from pursuing a Lemon Law claim. Although there are dozens of misconceptions about Lemon Law, here are the top five:
- There is one federal Lemon Law that covers motor vehicles.
There isn't one federal Lemon Law. In fact, each state has its own Lemon Law - sometimes more than one. No two state laws are identical, although most contain similar elements. When you think about it, it makes sense that states differ, as the buying habits and situations of citizens can vary greatly from state to state. For folks who live in Alaska, it's important to have a provision that they can be reimbursed for having vehicles transported for repair; after all, remote outposts don't have car dealerships, and repair facilities can be hundreds of miles away. Likewise, it makes sense that Florida has strong Lemon Laws for motor homes since many Floridians are retired and own recreational vehicles.
- If I buy a vehicle, Lemon Laws allow me a three-day grace period to return the vehicle if I change my mind.
When you purchase a vehicle, you sign a binding contract. The three-day grace period is a myth. That makes it all the more important to do your research and think carefully before you buy. When considering a new car, check out the model's track record with consumer publications that rate vehicles, and look up the number of complaints and safety recalls on the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration website. If you've picked out a used vehicle that interests you, use CARFAX to get a report on the car's history. Overall, don't get pressured into buying a vehicle that you're not sure about. Take your time before you sign on the dotted line.
- All vehicles are covered by Lemon Laws.
Nothing could be further from the truth. Lemon Laws vary greatly from state to state, as do the definitions of a "lemon." The definition of a lemon is usually quite narrow. Although some states have used car Lemon Laws, most states only cover new cars used for personal or household purposes. That means that business vehicles, motorcycles, and recreational vehicles often aren't covered. Some states cover leased vehicles, and some states don't. It's important to understand your state's Lemon Law to see if your vehicle qualifies.
- All vehicle defects are covered by Lemon Laws.
If your new car's radio is on the fritz or if the window control is driving you crazy, don't assume that your vehicle can be legally defined as a lemon. Most state Lemon Laws require that the defect substantially impair the use, value, or safety of the vehicle. In other words, minor problems generally aren't covered. Similarly, state Lemon Laws have a laundry list of requirements vehicles have to meet being considered lemons, such as the number of times a car has to be taken in for the same problem, the number of days a car is out of service, and so forth.
- I can pursue a Lemon Law claim on my own
While many states require consumers to go through a manufacturer's arbitration program prior to filing a Lemon Law claim, and some states have set up their own arbitration processes, you're just not on equal footing unless you go into the process with legal representation. After all, auto manufacturers have teams of lawyers that do nothing but fight consumer claims. They're set up to give people the runaround until the time to file a Lemon Law claim has expired or to make people jump through hoops until they simply give up. Having a Lemon Law lawyer by your side will send a message to the manufacturer that you are serious, and that you're willing to pursue your claim to the fullest extent of the law. Best of all, most states' Lemon Laws require that, in successful cases, the manufacturer is required to pay your legal expenses. In other words, hiring a Lemon Law attorney shouldn't cost you a dime.