Owner satisfaction - Lemon Law

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Updated: 3/28/2003 12:53 pm Published: 3/28/2003 12:53 pm

The law defines a 'lemon' as a new vehicle that requires such repairs as to significantly impair its use, safety, or value. Three main areas of legislation make up the so-called 'lemon laws'. The Magnusson-Moss (MAG-nuss-suhn MOSS) Warranty Act is a federal law providing protection to any consumer who purchases an item valued over $25 (twenty-five dollars) with a written warranty. According to this law, the manufacturer must either repair or replace a defective product. The Universal Commercial Code, which has been adopted in all 50 states, gives the purchaser of a defective new car the right to return the vehicle after a reasonable period of time. The law doesn't specify how long a period of time this can be. The vehicle can also be returned if a number of separate defects together destroy the consumer's faith in the reliability of the vehicle. All 50 states have specific lemon laws to protect new vehicle purchasers. While the details differ, these laws generally establish warranty rights extending for 12 or 24 months, or for 12,000 or 24,000 miles. The number of times an attempt to repair the vehicle can be made depends on the type of defect. Normally, the dealer performs these repairs, although strictly speaking it's the manufacturer's responsibility to provide satisfaction. In faults seriously affecting safety, such as defects in brakes or steering, only one attempt to rectify the fault is permitted. For less serious safety faults, two repairs are allowed. For other defects, the manufacturer or dealer is allowed three opportunities to repair the vehicle. If repair attempts fail, the vehicle must be repurchased or replaced.

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