lemon lawsLuckily for consumers, there are laws in place that protect car buyers from the risk of purchasing a car that is absurdly unreliable when they’re guaranteed a typical vehicle that should operate fine given basic maintenance. Even if a car’s issues are covered by a warranty, vehicle owners would still be vulnerable to dealerships’ refusing to honor that warranty or from the possibility that the car must keep being taken back for the same repairs against and again. Both federal and local laws cover these potential issues, and it’s likely that they can offer you a remedy to your situation. Read on to figure out what lemon laws are and how they work.

The most fundamental lemon law in the United States of America is called the Magnuson-Moss Warranty Act, which was passed by Congress in 1975. The act covers warranties in general, including the warranties commonly placed on new cars. This act isn’t your only protection against faulty new cars, however.

In addition, every single state has its own lemon laws, which generally extend your protection even further, though the extent of that protection depends on which state you’re living in.

lemon2First, more on the Magnuson-Moss Act. At the time of the law’s passing, there was widespread abuse throughout the states of the warranty system and warranty provisions. Companies were as likely to attempt to wriggle out of supposed warranties with misleading jargon and blatant disregard as they were to honor whatever warranty they promised. Products were also commonly sold without warranties, while the warranties that were sold in addition often weren’t clear about the actual extent of the coverage. Then getting a warranty enforced was generally made exceedingly difficult as a way of discouraging a customer from pursuing it.

What Magnuson-Moss required was that the fine print of all warranties be immediately available to consumers before the selling of the product. It told manufacturers what needed to be included in the warranty as well. That said, Magnuson-Moss didn’t give consumers complete protection, and it only applied to consumer products that cost more than $5. It doesn’t require that a product come with a warranty either, which means if you buy one without a warranty you’re basically on your own. Still, it required that the following aspects be present in all warranties:

lemon4The warranty has to be designated as either “full” or “limited,” it has to be spelled out clearly and in a way that is reasonably readable, and it has to be available where the consumer can read it before buying. A full warranty implies that a customer can get any parts repaired provided that they didn’t work as advertised (and weren’t broken by the consumer), while a “limited” warratny implies that only under specific, spelled out conditions can a consumer get parts or an entire product replaced.

Then there’s state-wide lemon laws, which vary. California has the strongest lemon laws in the country since its passing of the Song-Beverly Consumer Warranty Act, which requires you to go to a manufacturer’s local representative (generally the dealer) to get a car repaired. If they can’t fix the problem that’s covered under warranty within a reasonable number of tries, you may be eligible for an entire vehicle replacement.


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