The excitement that comes with owning a car can turn into frustration too. The affordable price, mileage, and the prestige associated with the model are the baited traps to buying a substandard car. If you own a car and are experiencing problems with it, then you need to continue reading further to determine whether it is a lemon or not.
According to most state laws a car qualifies to be lemon if:
- It has a substantial fault after a period of use or miles of drive, and a warranty shields the fault
- It still has faults after multiple repairs by the dealer or the manufacturer
The defect is substantial if it affects the:
- Operation and use of the car
- Value of the car
- Safety when using the car
Problems with the engines, power transmission, and brakes constitute a substantial defect. Four repair times are considered a reasonable number, but when a defect poses a sensitive safety risk, one repair attempt is enough for a car to be a lemon. There is no watershed for substantial and minor flaws, but some states’ law considers defects like poor paint a significant defect.
Here are several diagnostics to consider if you bought a car that and you are in doubt whether it lemon is or not:
You should check whether the steering wheel drifts, and you often have to keep it in a straight position. You should also pay attention when it slacks, fidgets, or produces a clunking noise when changing the direction of the car. The slackness, drifting, and fidgeting could be an indication of damage in the steering gear or linkage.
The color of the puff from the car exhaust pipe can be indicative of a severe mechanical problem with the engine. Black exhaust shows that the air filter may be dirty while a blue smoke suggests a defect with the oil combustion system in the engine. White clouds of smoke indicate humid conditions in the oil combustion chamber due to the malfunctioning of the cylinder head.
If you have a vehicle that has been to the dealer or manufacturer several times for a repair and the problem keeps on recurring, it is a blatant indication that you have a lemon car. Keeping the car until the expiration of the warranty would only be to your disadvantage.
You need to visit the manufacturer’s web site and see whether your car model has ever been recalled to correct the manufacturing faults. The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration NHTSA) maintains all the official recalls from the various car manufacturers.
Tires are very crucial to determine whether a car is a lemon since they receive the effect of all vehicle malfunction. Most lemon cars have tires that wear out from the sides and cup with time. This progression of wearing indicates a problem with either:
- Steering functions
- Breaking system, and
- The shock absorbers and springs
You need to do a thorough inspection of the cars outside appearance. The following could be indicative of a substantial defect in the vehicle:
- Presence of filler such as fiberglass below the paint spray upon testing with a small magnet that does not stick
- Inconsistent gaps between the body panels
- Broken lamp sockets which you never caused
- Body parts that give an impression of refurbishment
- The doors do not close properly or leave uneven edges when it closes
- Uneven distance between the wheels of each side
If your car has defects covered by its warranty, you are entitled to repairs up to four times. These repairs are typically within 12 months. After these number of times, the car mostly qualifies to be a lemon according to the state law. You are now entitled to financial compensation or get the car replaced. This only applies if you bought the car from a dealer or manufacturer and not a private party.
Some states have lemon laws for used vehicles that apply when:
- A car has been used by the plaintiff below a specific mileage as determined by the law;
- A car has been sold once; or
- The warranty would have covered the car had it been with the original owner.
It would be best if you involved an attorney who is seasoned in the lemon law from this stage. Neale Fhima handles lemon law claims after investigating the type of warranty your car has since used cars have warranties too. When you qualify for a refund or replacement, you should notify the car dealer of the defect and the intention for compensation. Retention of proper documentation is essential for a smooth process. The documentation includes:
- Promotion brochures and adverts that from the manufacturer that prompted the purchase of the car
- The service records which shows that the dealer repaired the defective car
If the car dealer does not offer a satisfactory settlement for you, you need to go to the arbitration process before filing litigation. Involve your lawyer to interpret for you the lemon law in your state and help you approach the car dealership before the expiration of the statute of limitations.
The best case is to choose a consumer protection agency that will guide you in the lemon law dispute. This program is free of charge and will help you in navigating the negotiation procedure and establishing the right settlement amount outside the court.
The arbitration outcome bounds the car dealers, but the car owner can always appeal the decision if they are not satisfied by the arbitration decision. The best option before suing the car dealer is getting legal guidance on whether you should accept the settlement from the consumer protection agency or go to court.
Having a lemon car can be heart-rending. However, it would be best if you acted faster after several failed attempts to get the car repaired. Faster action helps one get repaid and escape from accidents that may easily result from car defects.