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Lemon Law:
Legal Basics to Help with Major Car & Truck Defects

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What's Covered and What Isn't




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Sergei Lemberg, a Lemon Law attorney, discusses what you need to know about new car lemons:


With all of the cars, SUVs, trucks, motorcycles, and RVs being manufactured in the U.S. and abroad, it's reasonable to expect that some will have defects. After all, vehicles are incredibly complex pieces of machinery and a lot of things can go wrong. In the best-case scenario, any defects that weren't caught by quality assurance are quickly repaired by the dealer. In the worst-case scenario, you have a vehicle with pronounced defects that make it run poorly, that constitute a safety hazard, or that reduces its value -- and the dealer or manufacturer refuse to buy back or replace it.


When that happens, the lemon law can come to the rescue. In most states, lemon laws cover new vehicles bought for personal use, while in a small number of others used passenger vehicles and business vehicles are covered. SUVs, vans, trucks, demonstrators, motor homes, and motorcycles may also qualify for the protections.


Although it doesn't cover minor defects (like a non-working stereo system), the lemon law normally does force the manufacturer to stand by its product. In order for the lemon law to apply to new vehicles, the defects have to occur during the first two years from the date you take delivery of the vehicle (in most states) or the first 18,000 miles (some states have a shorter or longer period) on the odometer -- whichever comes first.


If you think you have a lemon, in most states you have two options: you can either go to court or go to arbitration. Either way, you should have a lemon law lawyer by your side. After all, you can be sure that the manufacturer's team of legal eagles will be there to fight your claim every step of the way. The good news is that, if your court claim is successful, the manufacturer has to pay your attorney fees. Often, with the help of a lawyer, you can get a refund, replacement vehicle, or cash settlement without having to go through the entire lemon law process -- and get your attorney's fees covered in the process.


Whenever you buy a new or used vehicle, it's important to know your rights. And, if you think your vehicle is a lemon, it pays to persevere to make the manufacturer stand by its product.

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