If your new car is spending
more time in the shop than on the road, you may be able to get relief
from your state's lemon law. These laws are designed to ensure that
new-car buyers aren't stuck with manufacturers' mistakes.
Lemon laws in some states cover leased or used vehicles as well
as new ones. To find out about the lemon law that applies to your
car or truck, contact the consumer affairs office or attorney general's
office in the state where you bought the vehicle.
Generally, lemon laws allow a car owner to seek a refund or replacement
if a vehicle has a defect or condition that substantially impairs
its use, market value or safety, and the defect is not fixed within
a "reasonable" number of repair attempts--usually defined
as four repair attempts or 30 days out of service within the first
12 months or 12,000 miles of ownership. (In some states, the lemon
law applies for different periods; see the table on the next page.)
Arbitration is state-run in Connecticut, Florida, Georgia, Hawaii,
Maine, Massachusetts, New Hampshire, New Jersey, New York, Texas,
Vermont and Washington. In other states, arbitration programs are
run by the automaker, the Better Business Bureau or the National
Automobile Dealers Association.
In most states, you present your case to an arbitration board,
either in person or by telephone or letter. The automaker also presents
its side. If you prove your case, the arbitration board can force
the automaker to buy the car back.
The automaker is usually required to abide by the arbitrator's
ruling if you win. But if you're not happy with the arbitrator's
decision, you can usually still take your case to court.
Click here for a brief
overview of state lemon laws
Click your map below to read your state's lemon laws: