When you buy a car from a dealer, you expect it to work and run at its best. Sometimes bad things happen too soon. The clear coat or paint fades. The body is prone to rust. Misfires keep happening to everyone’s bewilderment. A haunting check engine light reveals the same codes that just won’t go away. You’ve taken it to the shop or dealership under warranty, and after several tries, nothing works. The car is no longer driveable, safe, or as valuable. Now you have a sour taste in your mouth. So, what do you do?
How to Claim Your Car as a Lemon
Depending on the laws in your state, you may be able to claim your car as a lemon if it meets certain conditions. These laws will determine:
- If you have recourse for a used or new vehicle from a public or private seller
- What is considered an adequate number of attempts at fixing it
- What is considered a “defect”
You can find out how your state defines a lemon car here.
Once you’re confident you have a legally defined lemon, the likely next step is to apply for arbitration. Make sure you have documented all transactions, communications, issues, and repair attempts. You can most likely apply for a state-run or manufacturer-run arbitration process, which you can find the terms for in your owner’s manual. In a state-run process, you will usually have the option of trading it in for a new vehicle or accepting reimbursement for the price and any fees paid along the way, should the arbiter rule in your favor. If need be and the dealership would rather settle the issue in court, there are many law firms that specialize in protecting consumers under lemon laws.
How to Avoid Purchasing of a Lemon
The best way to prevent the purchase of a lemon is to know what to look for and inspect in a vehicle before buying. Knowing how to check areas like the fluids for smells and age, tire tread, steering, and suspension strength and more can alert you to any potential issues down the road. It also helps to know the specific vehicle’s service history or if it had any recalls. You can also ask a professional mechanic you trust to inspect it themselves.
It’s important to know that you cannot prevent all situations beforehand, but knowing what to look for can always help.