Lemon Laws: Don't End up with a Defective Vehicle

Sergei Lemberg, a lemon law expert and one of my esteemed colleagues, is sitting in the guest blogger’s chair today. He has some great info about state and federal laws that can help you if you wind up with a defective new or used vehicle.

State Lemon Laws – Every state has its own lemon law, which is designed to protect consumers who buy defective vehicles. However, each state defines a lemon differently. Generally speaking, lemon laws cover new cars that are bought for personal (as opposed to business use). Some states also cover leased cars, business vehicles, RVs, and motorcycles. There’s always a time limit and criteria your vehicle has to meet in order to be considered a lemon, so check your state’s laws.

Magnuson-Moss Warranty Act
– The federal Magnuson-Moss Warranty Act states that the manufacturer of any product – from your toaster to your lemon RV – must abide by the warranty. For vehicles, this includes written or implied warranties, or service contracts.

FTC Used Car Rule – The Federal Trade Commission’s (FTC) Used Car Rule requires dealers to post a Buyers Guide in every used car they sell, including light-duty vans, light-duty trucks, demonstrators, and program cars. The Buyers Guide becomes part of your sales contract and overrides any conflicting provisions in your contract.

Implied Warranties – State laws say that a dealer has implied obligations, such as the soundness of the vehicle. In some states, however, dealers can get around implied warranties by selling the vehicle “as is.” In other states, it’s illegal to sell a vehicle “as is.”

Warrant of Merchantability – A warrant of merchantability is an implied warranty and says that a vehicle will run like it’s supposed to. While it doesn’t cover every component of a vehicle, it does apply to its basic functions. In this instance, you have to prove that the defect was present at the time of sale.

Express Warranties – Express warranties are those that are stated. If, for example, the manufacturer of your vehicle has a five-year warranty on a drive train, your vehicle would still be covered for a year if you purchased it when it was four years old. Express warranties also include verbal representations made by a salesperson at the dealership, as well as advertisements.

Uniform Commercial Code – When a dealer disclaims a warrant of merchantability, that disclaimer can be challenged using the federal Uniform Commercial Code (UCC). The UCC can also be used to cancel the sale of a used car.

Unfair and Deceptive Acts and Practices – Every state has an Unfair and Deceptive Acts and Practices (UDAP) law. These laws can often be used even if the used car is sold “as is,” as long as the dealer is guilty of a verbal deception or a failure to disclose information about the vehicle.

Truth in Mileage Act – The federal Truth in Mileage Act (TIMA) seeks to combat odometer fraud, such as rolling back the odometers on used cars. The government estimates that about 3.5 percent of vehicles have their odometers rolled back. If your used vehicle was sold with a false odometer statement, this 1986 law can help.

You can find out more about Mr. Lemberg and his valuable tips on Lemon Laws at www.lemonjustice.com