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Auto Lemon Laws

By Expert Author: Parul Shah

Generally, there are three pieces of legislation that you are to be acquainted with if you ever have to deal with a lemon car case (God forbid!). They include state lemon laws (sometimes referred to as warranty laws) that show differences as you move from one state to another, the Federal Magnuson-Moss Warranty Act and Uniform Commercial Code (UCC). If your state lemon law does not cover your case, you can safeguard your rights by going to the latter two.

Now let's have a closer look at these laws. A state lemon law is legislation that applies to the vehicles with persistent defect(s) and defines in what cases the manufacturer breached the warranty and what the consumer is entitled to if the warranty is breached. Normally, the customer has the right to claim a refund or a new replacement.

The lemon law is effective only if the vehicle comes with an express written warranty and during the warranty period. In most states it covers new cars that have been purchased to be used for family, personal or household purposes. A car bought for business purposes is not covered by the state lemon law, but can be refunded or replaced under the Magnuson-Moss Act or Uniform Commercial Code (UCC).

Usually, when you are reduced to seeking justice, the action that you have to take depends on the state where you bought or registered your vehicle. In some of them, launching a written complaint is enough, while in others you will have to hire an attorney. Anyway, if your car dealer or manufacturer are unable to satisfy your claim, you first go to the arbitration and, if necessary, to court of law to resolve the dispute. And it is a manufacturer, not a car dealer, that you take to court.
The Magnuson-Moss Act is a federal lemon law. It is a forebear of all state laws and serves as recourse, when state laws don't help. Its mission is to protect the buyer from manufacturer's breaching warranty. If your attorney chooses to sue under the Magnuson-Moss Act, the manufacturer is to recover your attorney's fees (if you win the case). It refers to the vehicles and other personal property priced $25 and higher purchased "for purposes other than resale". The law was enforced in 1975 and covers the products that were acquired after July 4 that year.

The Magnuson-Moss Act deals with both "full" and "limited" warranties. The case can be taken to court with a valid cause of action even after the warranty has expired as long as the defect appeared in the vehicle during the period of warranty.

And last but not least is Uniform Commercial Code (UCC). This law grants the customer the right to claim a refund or a new vehicle replacement, if the defect(s) present in the car have proved to continue after several attempts ("a reasonable amount of attempts") have been made to repair the inoperable part. The threshold of proof is defined by a particular state law.

When and if you decide to take action against lemon makers, you can study the laws and do it yourself, but it can be wise to hire an attorney, who can do it quicker and more efficient with his fees recovered by the manufacturer.

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