1) The laws define what a lemon car is and require that the
manufacturer, not the dealer, takes care of the defects. If a number of attempts
have been made to repair a defect that significantly impairs the use, value or
safety of a car and the car continues to have this defect, the car is than
considered to be a "lemon".
2) Most statutes set up a warranty rights period of either 12 to 24 months or
12,000 to 24,000 miles. The defect(s) must occur sometime during this period.
3) Many of the state laws contain specific guidelines as to what constitutes
a sufficient number of attempts to repair, and whether these attempts entitle
the consumer to a refund or replacement. These are:
a. If the defect is a serious safety defect involving brakes and or steering,
the manufacturer is granted one attempt to repair.
b. If there is a safety defect that is not considered a serious safety
defect,the manufacturer has two attempts to repair.
c. For any other defect, the manufacturer is usually given three or four
chances to repair the same defect.
d. If at any time the vehicle is in the shop for a cumulative total of 30
days in a one year period, with at least one of those days occurring the first
If any one of these of these guidelines can be satisfied, the consumer is
usually given the right to require repurchase or replacement of his/her vehicle.
4) Most lemon laws do allow an offset for use of the vehicle by the consumer.
Oftentimes, a reduction in the consumer's purchase price return is used in
relation to the number of miles he/she had put on the car. One law spells out
the reduction in refund for use as follows:
(miles at time of refund X purchase price)/100,000
The consumer can often argue that he/she should not be charged for miles that
were put on the vehicle after the first try to fix the defect. For example, what
if the consumer allows a dealer many attempts to repair a defect over a period
of several thousand miles? Should the manufacturer be allowed to reduce his
refund for the period of time he was not unsuccessful in fixing the defect? Our
answer is no. The above formula should be used to compute the mileage at the
time of the repair attempt. This can often make a difference of several hundred
dollars to the consumer.
5) Only about one half of the lemon laws allow the consumer to recover
attorney's fees in his/her action. Those states that do allow attorney's fees
provide for a greater likelihood of success and representation in warranty