How to Return a Car on Lemon Law

lemon law
Having problems with your car?

If your new car seems to be breaking down all the time, you might want to learn how to return a car on lemon law statutes. Many states offer lemon laws for your protection, and you might be able to use these laws to improve your situation.

What Is a "Lemon?"

Generally speaking, a "lemon" is a car that does not meet basic standards for quality. Manufacturing defects or design flaws affect the safety and value of the car, and they cause a great deal of inconvenience for owners. In affected vehicles, the same systems may break down again and again.

Each state defines the term "lemon" differently. In some states, you may be protected under a lemon law when you purchase a used vehicle. In other states, the car must be new. Some states are strict in their definition of a lemon, limiting the definition to a few major safety defects. Other states define the term more loosely.

Regardless of where you live, you may have some kind of recourse if you find yourself with a vehicle that has major problems.

About Lemon Laws

In most states, you may be entitled to a new vehicle if the manufacturer has been unable to fix the car's defects. Depending on the state and the type of defect, the number of allowed attempts may vary. However, there are three rules that generally entitle you to a new vehicle:

  • The car has a safety defect, and the manufacturer has made two previous attempts to fix the problem.
  • The car has another substantial defect, causing expense or inconvenience, and the manufacturer has tried four or more times to remedy the situation.
  • The car has less than 12,000 to 18,000 miles on the odometer, and it has been out of service for more than 30 days.
  • The car is less than 12 to 24 months old, and it has been out of service for more than 30 days.

How to Return a Car on Lemon Law Statutes

If you're having problems starting your new car or seem to be replacing parts at an alarming rate, you may be able to return your vehicle. Each state has its own lemon law return process, and you'll need to follow specific procedures laid out in your state's lemon law. However, there are a few steps you can take to get started.

Gather Documentation

In general, you'll need the following information and documentation:

  • Bill of sale or receipt for the car
  • Copy of the manufacturer's warranty
  • Repair log detailing services performed, dates of service, and the car's mileage at the time of service
  • Copies of any correspondence you have had with the dealer or automaker

Research Lemon Laws in Your State

Since each state has its own definition of a "lemon" and its own requirements for rectifying the situation, you'll need to know the specifics for your state. To find the official lemon law guidelines for your state, consult the Better Business Bureau Lemon Law webpage.

Notify the Manufacturer

Be sure you notify the manufacturer that you are considering defining your vehicle as a lemon. Most state lemon laws allow the manufacturer several chances to make the situation right. You'll need to give them a chance to do that before you can return your car.

Consider Hiring an Attorney

In many states, lemon laws provide for attorney fees. These laws can be complicated, and the auto companies are big businesses. It's never a bad idea to hire an attorney to help you understand and follow the lemon law return process.

Helpful Tips

Now that you know how to return a car on lemon law statutes, keep the following tips in mind to improve your chances of success:

  • Document every aspect of the transaction. Keep all notes, emails, phone transcripts, letters, and repair records.
  • Comply with any safety recalls affecting your vehicle.
  • Follow the steps outlines in your state for lemon law returns.
  • Be sure you notify the manufacturer properly. Keep records of the notification.
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How to Return a Car on Lemon Law