Is There a Remedy to Leasing a Car That Is a Lemon?
Few things in life can compare to the feeling of cruising around in a new car. In most cases, this is true even if the vehicle isn’t technically new. The only thing that really matters is that it’s new to you and something you were excited about enough to actually buy or lease. Nonetheless, this honeymoon period can end rather quickly should you suddenly find out everything with your new car wasn’t quite as advertised. Just as few feelings can compare to getting the keys and heading out for the first time in your new car, few feelings can be devastating as finding out that new car you were so excited about is actually a lemon.
Unfortunately, this kind of thing happens far more frequently than what you might think. For this reason, it’s something you’ll want to keep in the back of your mind whenever you’re in the market for a new vehicle. Furthermore, should you suddenly find yourself in this situation, the first thing you’ll probably want to know is how to remedy the situation so you’re not left footing the bill. In this sense, the most important thing is to be aware of your legal rights and what steps you may be able to take to ensure that you’re not stuck dealing with a car that has more problems than it is worth.
Understanding What a Lemon Vehicle Is and What to Do If You End up Leasing One
The very best thing you can possibly do is to be as thorough as possible in your new car search in the hopes of avoiding this situation altogether. If you’re buying from a private seller, this means making sure to have the vehicle fully inspected by a professional mechanic to ensure it is free from any major issues. However, things can be a bit more complicated when leasing a vehicle from a dealership, in which case you mostly have to take their word for it if they say the vehicle is in perfect condition.
The good news is that most dealership leases almost inevitably come with a warranty, and this fact helps to drastically minimize the risk of you getting stuck with a vehicle that has major problems. For starters, the fact that the vehicle is under some type of warranty means that the manufacturer should repair or replace any faulty or defective parts that are covered under the warranty. Still, the bigger reason that your warranty is hugely beneficial is that having a warranty also means you are covered under the so-called US lemon laws. What this means is that you may be able to sue the dealership or manufacturer if they refuse to repair or replace your lemon, which is where an experienced attorney can be of huge assistance.
The Basic Facts about US Lemon Laws
The US government understands the importance of protecting consumers against unethical business practices. As part of this, the federal government passed the Magnuson-Moss Warranty Act in 1975. Also known as the federal lemon law, this act is designed to cover consumers in case they purchase a vehicle with major mechanical defects. In addition, most US states also have their own specific lemon laws, many of which are far more expansive and thus cover many additional issues than the federal lemon law.
Both the federal law and most state laws provide guarantees to the consumer that the dealership or manufacturer will be required to repair any defect or other issue covered under the respective law. In addition, the federal law and most state lemon laws also provide additional protection by requiring the dealership or manufacturer to pay for any associated attorney fees should it become necessary for the consumer to file a lawsuit related to their lemon vehicle.
The importance of this last point cannot be overstated. One of the primary reasons that many people don’t seek the assistance of an attorney when dealing with a lemon is that they are afraid that they won’t be able to pay the related legal fees. In this sense, the fact that federal lemon laws guarantee that the dealership will cover your attorney fees means that there is no reason not to exercise your legal right to remedy the situation.
Lemon Law Requirements and Restrictions
The fact that these lemon laws exist is definitely great news for anyone dealing with a lemon vehicle. However, it is important that you are also aware of the limitations that exist related to these laws. For instance, the federal lemon law only covers new vehicle purchases, whereas some state laws also provide protection for leased vehicles and even some used vehicle purchases.
As previously mentioned, a vehicle must include a warranty to be covered under either federal or state lemon laws. What this means is that, if the buyer purchases a vehicle ‘as-is,’ they automatically assume all risk of any defects. This type of purchase is considered to be an express agreement between the two parties that essentially means the buyer gives up all right to seek recovery for any losses related to defects.
If the vehicle was purchased with a warranty, most lemon laws actually provide extended protections that go far beyond those covered under the original warranty. The reason for this has to do with implied warranties, which essentially state that the seller is under obligation to ensure that the vehicle is exactly as stated. If not, they can face liability for any defects, even if they are not covered under the original manufacturer’s warranty.
Time Is of the Essence
If you find yourself in possession of a lemon, it is essential that you seek legal help immediately. All lemon laws have a statute of limitations, which means you must file a claim within a specified period of time in order for it to be covered. In some jurisdictions, this time limit can be as short as a few days or weeks. Even in the best case scenario, you typically won’t have more than 60 to 90 days to file a valid claim.
The fact that the US government provides this type of consumer protection should be a great relief to anyone in possession of a lemon. Nonetheless, actually exercising your rights under the US lemon laws can be difficult without experienced legal assistance. This is especially true since lemon laws can vary quite drastically from one jurisdiction to another. Therefore, it is vital that you call an experienced attorney the moment you suspect your new vehicle might be a lemon. Otherwise, you could end up having to pay for all of the repairs yourself if you don’t take immediate action.