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Lemon Law Articles

Lemon Law Myths Busted

I bought a used car, so I don't have a claim.

This is a myth for two reasons. First, under your state's Lemon Law you may have a monetary claim, though it may not include replacement of the vehicle. Secondly, your car may be under manufacturer's warranty, or you may have had problems with the vehicle in the past while it was still under the warranty's coverage. Bottom line: Lemon Laws in all states were written for the protection of the consumer, so don't assume that you have no recourse. Let a qualified attorney make that determination.

My dealer told me I have no claim.

Lemon Laws in every state are written for the protection of the consumer, not the dealer or manufacturer. So the person best qualified to determine whether or not you have a claim is an attorney specializing in Lemon Law. At the very least, dealers are not qualified to make such a judgment. And at the very worst, they may be doing so out of self-interest since dealers get paid by the manufacturer to make warranty repairs, not to replace lemons.

My dealer has had 3 chances to fix my car, but they haven't been able to. I am now entitled to a refund or replacement.

Not necessarily. Several factors have to be considered before recovery can be determined. They include persistence and severity of the problem, the number of days the vehicle is in service, and frequency of visits to the dealer. No two cases are exactly the same, which means your case would be handled according to your unique set of factors.

The problem's been fixed, so I can't make a claim.

Also untrue. The set of factors that go into determining a lemon-law claim does not include whether the car's problem has been fixed. Oftentimes the problem does get fixed but only after too many days in service, too many trips to the dealer, too much inconvenience to the owner. Such a car has probably proved itself a lemon despite the fact that the problem's been fixed. Also consider that a "fixed" problem may return long after the dealer seems to have figured it out.

I need to file a claim within the mileage or time limits of the law (12 mos. or 12,000 miles in PA; 2 years or 18,000 miles in NJ).

Myth! Both states require that you report the problem within the time or mileage limits. Bringing the vehicle to the dealer for repair would qualify as reporting the problem. The claim can then be filed beyond the law's maximum time and mileage.

I have three days after I buy a vehicle to change my mind.

This sounds reasonable, but in all likelihood, it's not true. Standard auto-sales agreements do not include such a provision, and it would not be in the dealer's best interest to offer it. So be sure that you understand all paperwork attached to the purchase before you take possession of the vehicle. And be certain that you want the car, because you probably can't return it.

If I don't want the vehicle, I can leave it at the dealer, and it's their problem.

This is untrue. However you took possession of the vehicle—whether you bought it outright, leased, or financed—the responsibility for it is yours. Even in the case of a leased or financed vehicle, the dealer will often sell their interest to a leasing or financing company. So in any of these purchase scenarios the dealer is not the owner.

Several things may happen if you do abandon your vehicle on dealership property:

  • the dealer may charge you for storing the vehicle
  • you would remain responsible for whatever happens to the vehicle while it's there since you would still be the legal owner
  • the finance company may repossess it if you stop making payments
  • they may also sue you for the difference between what you owe and the price they're able to get for the vehicle at auction
  • a voluntary repossession would be reported to the credit bureau on your behalf

In every respect, leaving your vehicle at the dealership is a bad idea.

The dealer (or manufacturer) is responsible for the maintenance of my vehicle.

Not true. Once the purchase is complete, the vehicle and its maintenance (as described in your owner's manual) are your responsibility. This includes such things as monitoring and replacing oil, coolant, and transmission fluid; and maintaining tire inflation and rotation. Even if service is improperly done on your vehicle—your tires are over inflated at the local tire shop, for example—the responsibility is yours. The dealer is responsible only for repairs covered under warranty, and these do not, as a rule, include vehicle maintenance. So read your owner's manual carefully and take note of the time and mileage maintenance recommendations.

The Lemon Law is for your protection, don’t fall victim to misinformation and make your next steps the right steps. If you're convinced that you're driving (or nursing) a lemon, call an attorney who knows the law. The law is there for you-don't get stuck with a lemon.

To learn more about the Pennsylvania & New Jersey Lemon Law please call 1-800-MY-LEMON (1-800-695-3666) or email us.