How Lemon Laws Work – Defective Cars

The defect must be a “substantial” one that impairs the use, value, or safety of the car. For example, if the manual transmission repeatedly stalls in first gear, that is a “substantial” defect.

What if the car has more than one defect?

You cannot add up multiple attempts or extend periods of repair for different defects. Lemon law remedies are available only if the number of repair attempts or the time the car is out of service is attributable to a single defect.

Notify the dealer and/or manufacturer

We have come along way from the old adage of “buyer beware” (also known as “Caveat Emptor”). But consumers today cannot just sit on their rights without acting with some degree of reasonable caution. For example, if there is a substantial defect in your new car, you must notify the dealer and/or the manufacturer promptly, to give them a fair opportunity to inspect and repair the vehicle. Likewise, the consumer must be very specific about the nature of all defects, so the manufacturer or dealer can have a fair chance to remedy the problem.

Can I continue to use the car after notifying the manufacturer?

Normally yes. But you might not want to do so without consulting a lawyer. Continued use might hurt your ability to claim remedies outside of lemon laws.

Can I stop payments on a defective car?

Normally no. Lemon laws do not permit you to discontinue payments on a purchase contract. In fact, if you stop making payments and the car is repossessed, you are probably no longer entitled to lemon law remedies. See an attorney before doing anything like stopping payment on your lease or sales contract.

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