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How The Lemon Law Applies To New Car Purchases

In 1975 the Magnuson-Moss Act was enacted in the United States. Although the act is a federal law, each state has its own version. In all states the lemon law applies to the purchase of a new car however this protection is not necessarily provided to those who buy a used car or other consumer goods.

Of all the new cars purchased every year in the US, and there are many millions, about one percent of them have serious defects, these defects are simply unfixable no matter how hard the mechanics try. The lemon law gives the purchaser of one of these cars the option to get a refund of the initial purchase price or a replacement car. To do so the consumer needs to know what a lemon is in the eyes of the law.

What is a lemon?

Although state laws vary somewhat in their definition of what a lemon is, under the majority of state laws to qualify as a lemon the car must meet specific criteria:

* The defect must be substantial; it must have a negative impact on the safety, usability and value of the car.

* The defect must be covered by the manufacturer’s warranty and must occur within a specified number of miles or a certain period of time after purchase.

* The car cannot be repaired after a reasonable number of attempts.

Where the problem lies and why most consumers hire an attorney is the definition of the word “substantial.” It is recognized that any defect that impairs the value, use or safety of the car is certainly substantial. These defects can include such things as bad brakes, faulty steering, etc. It is also recognized that a loose knob on the dash or a loose hinge on the glove compartment door does not qualify as a substantial defect.

Between these two lies the problem, the line between what is substantial and what is not is often blurred. Depending on the state, what is seen as substantial in one place is not so in another. A poor paint job may be a substantial defect in one state but not another.

In every state the defect must occur while the car is still under warranty and within a certain number of miles. Any defect which is caused by an unauthorized modification of abuse is not covered by the lemon law.

The lemon law is applicable to every state although there are differences from one jurisdiction to another. For details of the lemon law that applies to the state in which you reside you are invited to go to the site of

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