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Lemon Law Tips

  1. When negotiating with the dealer, talk PRICE not MONTHLY PAYMENTS
    To ensure that your purchase is a good value, focus your negotiations on the price of the vehicle. If you let the dealer negotiate with you based on the monthly payment for the vehicle, you might end up paying significantly more than the value of the vehicle. If you are trading in a vehicle, first ask the dealer to give you a firm trade-in offer in writing. Be sure that the offer is for the ‘actual cash value’ of the vehicle. Sometimes dealers give consumers an ‘overallowance’ or a trade in value that is worth much more than the value of the vehicle, and then expect to make up the difference by selling you ‘extras’ or offering financing at a very high rate.

    Once the trade-in value is negotiated, you should make an offer to the dealer based upon the dealer’s cost, not on the sticker price of the vehicle. Be sure that you first offer leaves you some room to raise your offer during negotiations!

  2. ‘Blue Book’ values may vary greatly
    Understanding the actual value of the vehicle is critical to negotiating a fair purchase price. Be sure to scrutinize any vehicle-pricing guide that the dealership offers you. Each vehicle pricing guide uses different criteria to compute a particular make and model’s value. For example, the National Automobile Dealers Association(NADA) Consumer Guide only lists its estimated retail price of a vehicle; it does not make its estimated trade-in value or loan value of a vehicle available to the general public. Edmunds Used Car Price Guide, however, lists both an estimated market value as well as an estimated trade-in value. Understand a guide’s criteria before you begin negotiations.

  3. NEVER buy a used vehicle without having an independent mechanic review it first
    Protect yourself by having a reputable, independent mechanic inspect the vehicle before you buy it. Walk away from any dealership that refuses to let you have an independent mechanic look at the vehicle before you buy it.

  4. Extras can be extraordinarily expensive
    Some dealers may encourage you to purchase additional services with the vehicle, such as rustproofing, extended warranties, and theft deterrent systems. These optional services are often overpriced. For example, insurance agents recently have reported that some dealers have charged consumers $200 for a theft deterrent program that etches the car’s vehicle ID number (VIN) on the windows of the car. This is a service that some insurance agents offer to consumers at no cost.

  5. "Doc Prep" fees are not required by law, and are often overpriced
    Many dealers charge a hefty fee for ‘document preparation.’ Some consumers have reported that this charge was not disclosed until after the price of the vehicle had been negotiated. Others have complained about dealers who insist the fees are mandatory. While it may be reasonable for dealers to charge you a fee for going to the Registry of Motor Vehicles, don’t get taken for a ride. Be aware of the following laws:

    The advertised price of a motor vehicle must include all mandatory charges, including documentary preparation charges. The maximum amount a dealer may charge you for preparing the title paperwork is $5.

  6. There is NOT a ‘cooling off’ period for car contracts
    Once you and the dealer sign the purchase agreement, and you get a copy of it, you are bound by that agreement. You will not have a 24-hour or 3-day ‘cooling off’ period where you can cancel the deal. Before you sign on the dotted line, be sure the deal is acceptable to you. Read the entire contract carefully, and insist that all the terms you negotiated and agreed to be listed on the contract.

  7. Extended warranties are usually not a good value
    Generally, extended warranties are costly and often duplicate the warranty offered by the dealer or the manufacturer. Evaluate an extended warranty carefully before you agree to purchase it.


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