Ariz. ruling means lemon law for cars applies to leases
The new car lemon law just got a little bigger here in Arizona.
And people who lease cars are going to feel the impact in a good way.
To be considered a lemon, a new car has to have a problem that substantially impairs its use or value. If that problem is serviced four or more times during the first two years or 24,000 miles, or if it's in the shop for 30 or more days during that same period, it could qualify as a lemon.
The number of words in the statute haven't changed, and neither have the basic rules. What's different is the way the law is interpreted in court.
Until 2002, people who leased cars were generally given the same lemon law protections as people who bought cars. But that year the high court in New York ruled that the way the lemon laws are written, people who lease shouldn't be included.
While courts here in Arizona and elsewhere around the country weren't forced to follow that New York decision, in most cases they did. The result is that people who had a problem with their leased cars could keep taking them back for repairs under the warranty, but they had no way to get rid of a true lemon.
Since then, there have been a few decisions in various courts that went against the New York case, but nothing that forced Arizona courts to follow any other route.
Until last month.
A man named Bill Parrott appealed a decision that said his leased 2000 Jeep Cherokee was not covered by the lemon law.
Parrott faced a variety of problems with his car, but the biggest involved the rear differential. He took it in for service 13 times. It was rebuilt six times.
Parrott sued the manufacturer. The court here in Arizona didn't look at whether the car was a lemon, it only looked at the lease. Because Parrott didn't have the title to the car, he wasn't covered.
On Feb. 24, the appellate court here in Arizona ruled that the lease shouldn't get in the way of Parrott's rights under the lemon law.
It doesn't mean his car is a lemon, just that he can now pursue the case.
The decision affects other cases because unless Arizona's Supreme Court decides differently, the appellate ruling is now the law in our state.
And that's good news for anyone who is thinking about leasing a car.