When you leave the car lot after buying a new car, you should be happy to take home that vehicle. But, what if it’s in the shop almost from day one with problems the dealer can’t seem to repair? Uh-oh, you might just have a lemon. And, unfortunately, taking it back for a refund or a new car is very complicated.
I Bought a Lemon… Now What Can I Do?
Approximately 1 percent of all new cars sold each year are lemons. But estimates vary greatly and may be low as manufacturers are not required to report lemons. What exactly is classified as a lemon? A lemon most commonly refers to new cars with a substantial defect that is not fixable even after a reasonable number of repair attempts. If you think you have purchased a lemon, know how to protect yourself.
The burden of proof is on the owner of the lemon to prove that the car qualifies for replacement or a refund. How can you do that? Follow these steps:
- Learn the lemon laws and how a lemon is defined in your state, what is covered and how much time you have to file a complaint. You may only have one year or less after delivery of your new vehicle to take action.
- Collect all records on your car, including purchase contracts, service orders and invoices together with all warranties and the owner’s manual.
- Take notes on all conversations with the dealer and service technicians, recording any comments along with the time and date of all attempted repairs.
- Ask the dealer for a copy of all manufacturer’s technical service bulletins on your car.
- Track how long and how often your vehicle is in for repairs with dates, times in and times out.
- Call a lawyer who specializes in lemon law to help you understand your options and evaluate your case. Normally the call is free and all legal fees will be paid for by the manufacturer if you win your claim.
How to Avoid Buying a Lemon
If you haven’t purchased yet, try to avoid buying cards that are more prone to defects. Consumer Reports collects data on more than a million cars to publish its list of the 10 least reliable cars at 125 percent below that of the average vehicle – or worse – so let’s avoid them. Shop some of the best brands: