Know Your Rights Under the Law When Purchasing a “Lemon” Vehicle

When we buy a new car, the feeling is usually of illusion, novelty and pride. We want to travel more in it and that everyone see us at the wheel, smell the aroma of new seats and learn to use all the applications or gadgets  that our new acquisition offers us.

Unfortunately, many times the new car starts to present problems very early. We take it to the workshop one, two, three times and it’s time to ask ourselves… Are these faults at the factory? Did I get a “salty” car? In the United States there are laws that defend us when that happens, and in this article we explain it.


What is a “Lemon Car”?

In the United States, when a car is problematic or came with factory failures, it is commonly called “lemon car” ¬†although in several countries it could also be called “auto salty”, since that came with “bad luck”). If your car has needed repairs or visits to the mechanical workshop three or four times within the warranty period, we can consider it within that category.

When you buy a new car, the manufacturer is committed to guarantee optimum quality and to comply with a series of basic requirements within a certain period of time, called warranty period. If after several attempts to correct the problems of a car within this warranty period, defects persist, the manufacturer may owe you money for breach of warranty ( breach of warranty in English) and action must be taken immediately, since you could be exposed to serious dangers, as was the case with the Takata airbags.


What does the law say about cars with faults?

Each state has different criteria to consider a car a “lemon car” and protect the consumer when it is your turn to take home one. While the principles are similar, there are some details that vary.

In Florida, for example, the “lemon cars” laws cover new vehicles whose main purpose is personal or family use. If within the first 24 months since you bought the vehicle you had to take it 3 times to repair or it was not working for 30 calendar days or more, the state of Florida could recognize it as “lemon car” and you could claim the manufacturer with the help of a lawyer.

In the case of Georgia, the category “lemon cars” includes any vehicle designed to transport people or their properties on the tracks, as well as the external part of the motor homes; but excludes motorcycles and trucks with more than 10 thousand pounds of gross weight (GVW in English). If the vehicle already needs a brake or steering repair, or required three times of other repairs, or was out of service 30 calendar days in a year or before traveling 12,000 miles, it is highly likely that you have a legal way to recover money.


How do I know if I have a “lemon car”?

The first questions we must ask ourselves are: Is my car still new? Do I take it to the garage more often than usual and stay there too long?

The defects do not necessarily have to completely prevent the use of the vehicle nor be completely dangerous for you to qualify for a claim. Problems like a peeling paint, a tapestry that takes off or strange noises that do not affect the normal operation of your car can be taken into account so that your car is considered “lemon car”. However, we must also bear in mind that not everything we do not like or convince of a new car has to do with factory failures. These should be problems that, as far as is reasonable, should have been resolved or avoided before the car left the plant.

Now, if the problem is the brakes, or the car gives you problems to put the changes, or if a door opens alone or does not close properly, you definitely received a failed car and the manufacturer must respond. As we can see, there are many factors to consider and evaluate when presenting the claim, and it is therefore very important to have reliable legal help.


How do I show that my car has failed?

A lawyer will need to have evidence to support your claim and ensure a satisfactory outcome. If you have purchased or plan to buy a new car, we advise you, as a precaution, the following:

  • Keep track of each visit to the repair shop, from the first time.
  • Keep all documents and evidence: notes, names of people with whom you spoke, dates, hours.
  • If you file a complaint with the manufacturer or dealer, keep a copy for your records
  • When you return the car in the workshop, demand an invoice or proof of payment.
  • Make sure the work order mentions all the problems you are taking the car to the workshop for.

Check that the registered date, time and mileage mark are correct. Most states take into account the accumulation of hours in the shop and the mileage of your car at the time of filing a lawsuit.

If your car stops working or you stand in the middle of the track or road, take note of the date and time, the waiting time before receiving help, as well as evidence if you had to rent a car. All this will be of great importance if your case is taken to an arbitration or court.