The next time you think about going out and purchasing a new or used vehicle, you really need to make yourself familiar with the lemon laws of your state. These laws are in place to help you when you run into a difficult time with a new car purchase. As such, if you are really interested in protecting yourself, you need to become familiar with these laws. Luckily, they aren't all that difficult to understand. Keep in mind that if you have any specific questions, you should always consult with an attorney before you take any type of legal action.
- Purpose. Generally speaking, lemon laws are supposed to help protect consumers from vehicles that have some sort of inherent flaw that causes them to work either inadequately, inappropriately, or otherwise not at all. In addition, lemon laws are also supposed to provide a means of action and provide a means of gathering recompense in the event that your vehicle does fall under the laws. On a bit of a side note, lemon laws don't always apply to vehicles, and they can even be applied to some electronics and assistive devices (this can also include pets).
- When do they apply? Since consumers don't really have any way of knowing if there is a serious enough defect with a product when they buy it to warrant action, most of the time these laws are applied when you first purchase the property. However, there can also be a few instances where this is different, as is explained in the statute of limitations section below.
- Where do they apply? By federal mandate (the Magnuson-Moss Warranty Act), lemon laws are applicable in all 50 states of the Union. Granted, if you purchase a vehicle in one state, move to another, and only then notice the problem, you may have to file your claim in a federal court (since you crossed state lines). Be aware though, that you can only apply for a federal case in few circumstances, and you have to fit within those circumstances fairly clearly for the federal statutes to take affect. Otherwise, you will need to deal with the local laws and ordinances.
- Is there a statute of limitations? By strict interpretation the Magnuson-Moss Warranty Act, which is what all state lemon laws are modeled after, doe not contain an inherent statute of limitations. That being said, most courts have interpreted this act to mean that a consumer has about four years to act from the time that they notice a serious defect in operation of their property.
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