History - Lemon FAQs
The so-called "Lemon Law" is a state law which
is defines when a manufacturer has breached its written warranty
and what the victim is entitled to for such a breach of warranty.
Protect yourself from Lemons by getting your Used
The American Heritage Dictionary defines a lemon as: "One
that is or proves to be unsatisfactory…" (Houghton
Mifflin Company, Boston, 2nd College Ed., © 1985). However,
in an effort to further define such a broad term, the Lemon
Law attempts to define certain situations which entitle consumers
to their money back or a new vehicle. In a nutshell, any defect
or nonconformity, or combination of defects, which is/are
not repaired within a reasonable number of attempts or a reasonable
amount of time, may entitle you to lemon law relief. Your
vehicle does NOT have to be breaking down to be considered
a lemon. In short, if you are aggravated enough to be reading
this you may have a lemon. A Used Car History report can help
protect you from Lemons. Get your Used
Car History today!
Almost any motor vehicle is covered by the Lemon Law. This
means that Cars, Trucks, Motorcycles, ATVs, Vans, RVs, and
many other types of motor vehicles are all covered various
Lemon Laws. Protect yourself from Lemons by getting your Used
In a word, Yes! A Used Car History report can help protect
you from Lemons. Get your Used
Car History today!
NO! There is a misconception that you must bring your case
within the first year because the Lemon Law has what are called
"presumptions," which go into effect during the
first year of ownership. The Lemon law states that, under
certain circumstances, if a defect is not cured within a reasonable
number of repair attempts, your vehicle is a "lemon."
However, the question then is - what is a reasonable number
of repair attempts? The law then lists four examples of when
it may be "presumed" that a reasonable number of
attempts were made. Thus the word "Presumptions."
The most common is that a defect has been subject to three
unsuccessful repair attempts within the FIRST YEAR or Twelve
thousand miles on the vehicle, whichever comes first, on in
New Jersey 2 years or 18,000 miles. This is where the misconception
comes from. However, this does NOT mean you have to bring
your lawsuit within that time frame.
You may still be entitled to Lemon Law relief. Nowhere does
the law state that those are Requirements or Qualifications
for relief. For example, if your vehicle was only subject
to one repair attempt for the engine during the first year
and during the next year your vehicle was in the repair shop
another ten times for the same engine problem, would anyone
doubt that your vehicle was a Lemon! (Also See "I Have
Heard that I Only Have One Year to Bring a Case under the
Lemon Law, is that True" for an explanation of "Presumptions.")
There is really no such thing as "Qualifying."
This is a common misconception. First, the standards that
are used by the lemon law to define nonconformities and reasonable
number of repair attempts can be interpreted differently by
different people. Ultimately, those people may be a jury deciding
you case. Second, there are other laws which can be used to
help you receive compensation in the event that you do not
have a case for technical reasons under the Lemon Law.
You may still be entitled to compensation. There are other
laws which govern warranties which may be used to assist you,
including Federal law.
The answer to that question depends on the facts and circumstances
of each case. Therefore, at this point, the best thing to
do is maintain the status quo until you have the chance to
speak with a qualified attorney. In other words, do not allow
the condition of the vehicle to change by having any repair
work done to it. However, if your vehicle is dangerous and
you continue to use it, you do so at your own risk. It is
important to remember that if you decide to go forward many
of the manufacturers will want to inspect your vehicle. You
have a much better chance of obtaining the relief you seek
if you can demonstrate a defect. If you cannot, you may still
be entitled to compensation, but the chances of you getting
what you want may be reduced somewhat.
If the dealer refuses to repair your vehicle, you may also
have a claim. The manufacturer has given a warranty, which
in most circumstances, requires the dealer to do repair work.
If the dealer and/or the manufacturer then refuse to do the
repair work, you may have a claim under the Lemon Law, Federal
Warranty Law and/or other laws.
Basically, it is the same as a Lemon Law case, however, with
two notable differences. First, the standards or requirements
for breach of warranty are not as clearly defined. Second,
the remedies for breach of warranty are also not as clearly
defined. Therefore, you should consult a qualified attorney
to discuss whether you may have a breach of warranty case.
The most important documents that you should have are the
repair orders that you are given after your vehicle has been
in for repair. Each time you take your vehicle in for repair
you should make sure that all the information contained on
these documents is correct. For example, you should be sure
that all the complaints are written up EXACTLY as you have
stated them; that ALL of your complaints on that visit are
included; that the "dates in" and the "dates
out" are correct; that the mileage is correct; etc. In
Pennsylvania and New Jersey, dealers are required under the
Lemon Law to give you a copy of all of your repair orders.
If you cannot get them yourself, a qualified attorney may
be able to issue a subpoena to the dealership to obtain all
the documents on your vehicle. Also, if you keep a calendar
of appointments which shows when you took the vehicle in to
the dealer, this can be helpful in lieu of or in addition
to the repair orders.
The ultimate relief in a Lemon Law Case is your money back
or a new car. This is known as a “buy back” or
a “repurchase.” When that occurs, the defective
vehicle is returned to the manufacturer. This is usually done
by returning it locally to one of their authorized dealers.
However, that being said, the vast majority of cases are settled
for a partial refund of the purchase price, and the owner
maintains possession of the car.
How will my Attorney Get Paid? All fees and costs are charged
to the manufacturer. The manufacturer will pay our fees and
costs. Regardless of the outcome, you are never responsible
for paying the fees and costs.
As with most cases, over 98% of these cases settle to the
satisfaction of both parties. Remember, the manufacturer would
rather pay less now than risk paying a much larger amount
to you, your attorney and their attorneys later.
You probably should avoid aggravating yourself further and
wasting time. First, there is a reason that all 50 states
have some form of a Lemon Law. Laws are passed to remedy problems
which have become widespread. However, the mere fact that
there is a lemon law does not mean that you will be treated
differently if you represent yourself. It still costs a manufacturer
less to drag it out with an unrepresented consumer and hope
you will either go away or take little or nothing, than it
would cost them to buy back everyone's vehicle who made a
complaint. Second, if you fail, you will have wasted precious
time if you then have to hire an attorney. Third, the right
law firm does NOT charge YOU an hourly attorney's fee! By
being represented by the right law firm you lend legitimacy
to your case. If you select a law office that limits their
practice to consumer law, the manufacturer will most likely
already know your law firm. If your law firm has successfully
handled multiple lemon law claims, the manufacturer will know
that you have someone on your side who knows what they are
doing. Furthermore, if the manufacturer knows that if you
do not get what you want, you have the ability and the will
to file a lawsuit, you will be treated with more respect.
This is because it costs the manufacturer money just to defend
a lawsuit (starting from the moment you file the Complaint)
as they have to send it to a qualified local law firm to defend
Not very effectively, if at all. The Attorney General's Office
is an administrative agency, which is part of our State Government.
The government cannot act as your private attorney in a civil
matter. The most the Attorney General can do is write a letter
to the company you are complaining about and ask for their
help in resolving your complaint. They cannot file a lawsuit
on your behalf. In our experience, the company will usually
respond by saying they are doing everything they are obligated
to do. Then, the Attorney General will write you a letter
explaining that they have done everything they can and that
you may want to seek the assistance of a private attorney.
You will save yourself precious time by seeking the assistance
of a private attorney right away. You will know when you are
dealing with a law firm as the name(s) of one or more of the
lawyers must appear in the title of the firm.
The some states Lemon Law provides that manufacturers may
set up arbitration programs. These programs receive consumers'
complaints and are supposed to attempt to resolve the legitimate
ones prior to a lawsuit being filed with a Court of Law.
There is no requirement that you go through arbitration prior
to seeking the assistance of a lawyer. First of all, not all
of the manufacturers have "state certified" arbitration
programs. This means that arbitration is optional for those
consumers who have vehicles manufactured by companies who
do not. Second, for those who have gone to arbitration prior
to seeking an attorney, many have informed us that they were
treated with great disrespect and made to feel inferior because
they were unfamiliar with the law and the manufacturer knew
much more about the process and the mechanics of the vehicle.
Whatever the arbitrator(s) decide, the consumer is not bound
by the decision and can file a Complaint in a court of law
requesting a jury trial. This is usually your best chance
for a positive recovery and is usually done by a lawyer. This
does not mean that your case will not settle prior to trial
however. Most cases do settle prior to trial.
First, if you still had any warranty left from the manufacturer
when you purchased your vehicle (or your vehicle was "Certified"
by the manufacturer or dealer), and you made at least one
unsuccessful warranty claim before the warranty ended, you
may be entitled to compensation for breach of warranty. If
not, your case may raise a whole host of issues which are
beyond the scope of this "Frequently Asked Questions"
section. However, you may be entitled to compensation for
violations of various laws which you may not even be aware
of. The following is a list of some of the problems and/or
issues which may be present in your vehicle. Your vehicle
may be/have a: 1.Laundered lemon (or prior history of mechanical
problems known to the seller); 2.Salvaged or wrecked; 3.Rolled
back odometer; 4.Rental car, police car, taxi, etc.; 5.Stolen,
stripped and rebuilt; and/or 6.Involved in a flood.
What You Should do if You have Purchased a Used Car: One
or more of the following procedures may prove to be useful
in discovering whether there is something about your vehicle
that you were not told:
1. Get a Vehicle
2. See a body shop mechanic to determine if your vehicle
3. Have your Insurance Company run your Vehicle Identification
Number (VIN) on their computer (may be called a C.L.U.E. report)
to see if an accident claim was ever made with another insurance
4. Go to an authorized dealer and have them check the computer
to see if it was wrecked or to let you know what the mileage
was every time the vehicle was in for repair.
Again, your case may raise a whole host of issues which are
beyond the scope of this "Frequently Asked Questions"
section. However, there are many state and federal laws to
protect you. Some of these laws provide for very strong remedies,
such as Three (3) Times your Damages and Attorney's Fees and
Costs. For example, if you lost $5,000.00, you may be entitled
to recover $15,000.00 ($5,000.00 x 3), in addition to attorney's
fees and costs.
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