What Makes a Car a Lemon

January 27, 2012

"Lemons" is a term used to describe pre-owned vehicles which are problematic for some reason and misrepresented to the buyer so that the buyer ends up paying significantly more than the car is truly worth. This is a common scam, but also one that is easy to avoid. Getting a car history report and having the vehicle checked by a mechanic can prevent you from getting a sour deal on a car.

What Makes a Car a Lemon?

In general, a lemon is a car which has some defect which prevents it from being safe to drive. Problems such as faulty brakes, a dead engine or a broken transmission are all defects which would get a car classified as a lemon. Issues which do not detract from the safety of the vehicle, like badly chipped paint or a broken A/C, do not make a car a lemon. However, the exact definition of a lemon car varies from state to state since each state has its own Lemon Law.

The Lemon Law

Lemon laws are laws which help protect buyers from being stuck with a lemon car. As previously mentioned, each state has its own specific law. The gist of this law, in all states, is that buyers may be reimbursed for their faulty vehicles after repeated attempts to fix the problem are unsuccessful. Taking care of a car using the lemon law often requires a great deal of time spent in court and may not actually resolve your problem, so it's better to make sure you don't buy a lemon at all.

Checking For Lemons

Getting a car history check from a website like AutoCheck.com or CARFAX.com can tell you if any problems have ever been reported with the car you intend to purchase. You can also pay a mechanic to do a full check of your car and ensure that everything is in proper working order. These 2 methods will help you make sure you know the car's condition before committing to the purchase.

Lemon cars are something you may have to deal with should you be in the market for a used car. By shopping intelligently, you can minimize your risk of getting stuck with a lemon.


Related Questions and Answers

Where can I Look Up Official Lemon Law Information?

There are numerous websites that offer lemon law information online for free. The federal law is called the Magnuson-Moss Warranty Act. Fraud Guides is an excellent site that explains the law, while also reprinting it in its entirety. In addition to the federal laws, every state has their own lemon law. You can contact your local consumer affairs office or check out Car Lemon, which offers information on the lemon laws of each state. The site breaks the information down by explaining the laws of each state. This site also offers information on the federal law. If you have been sold a lemon, it is a good idea to seek retribution through the lemon laws of your state.

Where can I See a Lemon Law Letter Sample?

There are numerous sites that have samples of a lemon law letter. In order to start a complaint against a dealership that has sold you a lemon, you must mail them a certified letter. Searching the Internet for lemon law letters will bring up a number of results. Consumer Affairs is an excellent site for information about lemon laws as well as a sample letter. In many cases you can start a complaint without a lawyer. If the case becomes complicated or the dealership fights you on a refund, it may be a good idea to get professional legal advice.

Do All Used Car Dealerships Offer a Lemon Law Warranty?

No, all dealers do not have to offer a lemon law warranty. Every state has a lemon law and there is federal lemon law as well, but you must pursue the dealership if you are seeking a refund. Many dealerships offer a 3-day warranty where the buyer can return the vehicle for a refund if they are unhappy. This is not required though, so you need to be very clear on the policies of the dealership before you drive the vehicle off the lot. If the dealership is not willing to stand behind their product, it might be a good idea to look for a car elsewhere.

Can I Get a Free Lemon Check before Buying a Used Car?

Getting a free lemon check report is a common perk at many dealerships. If you are searching for a used car, asking for a free lemon check report such as CARFAX is pretty common. The majority of dealerships will provide a report if you ask, and many offer it as part of the sales process. If you are buying a vehicle from a private party, you should ask them to pay for a lemon check report as part of the deal. The majority of people will be happy to provide the report if it will help sell their vehicle.

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