While people previously shopped for a new car every four to five years, that timespan has started to stretch out. One reason is that many people are afraid of buying a lemon. It’s vital to know what conditions under which your manufacturer’s warranty will protect you from financial ruin on a car purchase. Here is everything you need to know in case you’re worried you bought a lemon.


What Does ‘Lemon’ Mean?

Every state in America has a “lemon law” that defines what qualifies as a “lemon vehicle.” While the term gets thrown around all the time, there are some real rules that tell you whether or not you’ve got one. To be considered a lemon, your car needs to have a recurring, unrepairable problem that’s covered by your warranty. That problem must occur within a certain period soon after you purchase the vehicle. If the company has tried to repair your car several times and continues to have the problem, you’re dealing with a lemon. There’s even a set number of “reasonable repair attempts” after which the law considers that vehicle a lemon. Every state sets its own rules as what counts as a substantial defect, but the laws are usually clearly written. Before you make a claim or go into debt trying to fix your vehicle, check the lemon laws and see if you’re covered. The state you bought your car in matters, so pay close attention if you live near the border of two states.


What’s a Substantial Defect?

If you don’t understand the factors that define a substantial defect, you’re bound to struggle to get yours covered. You might not even realize you’re dealing with one. If you have a substantial defect, you have a problem that impacts the value of your car, your vehicle’s ability to perform basic tasks, or worse, its safety. A car with faulty steering or brakes that malfunction is going to fall under the category of having a substantial defect. If your glovebox light goes in and out or if the radio antenna is a little bit bent, that’s outside the range of a substantial defect. These minor problems aren’t going to get you the attention you’re looking for from a manufacturer. Consumers have reasonable expectations when buying a new car. The line between a substantial and a minor problem aren’t always clear and with laws varying state by state, there’s no solid definition. A paint job that’s badly done might not seem like a big deal, but it could lead to runs and damage the body of your car over time. No matter what the issue is, it’ll need to fall within a certain window for you to ensure that you get covered.


What Are a Reasonable Number of Repairs?

We all have either experienced or know someone who has experienced repeated issues with a product or service. Someone who has to bring their car into the shop every week is dealing with a chronic issue that’s often related to the manufacturer. Dealers or manufacturers are given a chance to fix the problem you’re having. They’re owed that opportunity by law. If they keep repairing the problem and it’s clearly a chronic issue, then you can escalate the concern. The typical standard for “reasonable” repairs is four attempts, though it can vary from state to state. If the problem is a safety issue, they might only get one chance given it’s your life in their hands. There are a certain number of days every year where a car is allowed to be in the shop before it becomes clear there are substantial defects.


You’re Protected as a Consumer

According to the Magnuson-Moss Warranty act, buyers of any product that comes with a written warranty are protected. If manufacturers cut corners and a take a lot of risks with the health and safety of products, the legal system will hold them responsible. Since warranties are often a selling point for products, they’re not to be abused. If a manufacturer also creates an unfair warranty, making it hard for you to claim your product, then they will be held responsible. As a consumer, you can bring an action to recover your fees, costs for repair, and even the cost of an attorney. A lawsuit is your right under this act. If you find your warranty to be grossly unfair, then it’s your right to hold the manufacturer or your dealer responsible. Contact an attorney who specializes in these kinds of cases. You might be surprised to find that even used cars are covered. This depends on the state you buy the car in and what kind of mileage they have. If the car would have been covered by the original warranty, it’ll be covered by most lemon laws. Read the fine print before you buy any vehicle to be sure.


Your Manufacturer’s Warranty Covers You

While you might be worried that the manufacturer’s warranty might leave you high and dry, you’re protected by law. Thanks to several laws on the books, you’ll be covered in case your car is a lemon. If you’re worried you just went home with a lemon, contact us right away for help.

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