You’ve finally saved enough money to purchase a much-awaited new car. You carefully research the best options by visiting websites and local dealers. After buying your car for the right price, you drive it away from the lot, take it home, and enjoying using it for many years. After all, you did your research and made a wise purchase. Nothing should go wrong, should it?

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No. Unfortunately, though, the scenario just described is a fairytale for many consumers, especially for those who are saddled with a lemon car. In the eyes of the law, a “lemon” is a vehicle that has at least one manufacturing defect that affects the safety, value, and/or use of the vehicle.

I’ve Purchased a Lemon. What Can the Auto Dealer do to Help?

Just because you believe the car you purchased is a lemon doesn’t mean the law will agree with you. Each state has its own set of “lemon laws” to address the problem of malfunctioning new and used cars that simply can’t be repaired.

While the rules differ from state to state, according to lemon law experts, if your vehicle continues to have a defect within the warranty period — even after it has been repaired two, three, or four times — the automobile may be considered a legal lemon. In addition, if the vehicle has been out of service for repairs for 30 or more days, it can be considered a lemon. Most state laws provide that an automobile manufacturer must either refund a consumer’s money and take back the defective vehicle or replace the vehicle.

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Although the vehicle manufacturer is responsible for remedying your defective vehicle situation, your auto dealer can also take steps to assist you. Below is a brief overview of four steps the dealer can take to help you out.

  1. Attempt to Repair the Car Within a Reasonable Number of Tries

After learning about your state’s lemon laws, take your car to the dealer for repair. In most states, two to four attempts at repairing the vehicle is a “reasonable” number of tries. Each time you take your car in, provide the dealer with a list of the problems you are encountering with the automobile. If the vehicle continues to have problems after the first repair attempt, return to the dealer with another list of the problems you are experiencing with the car.  

Always make photocopies of your problem lists for your records, as these can become valuable if you need to request a refund or a replacement vehicle. In addition, always get copies of the repair records. Make sure that the reports show the problems, the repairs performed, and the dates the car was in the repair shop.


  1. Provide a Free Car While Repair Attempts are Made in the Shop  


Providing a free car while your vehicle is in the shop for repair is a courtesy offered by many auto dealers. For the benefit to apply, the car must be in the repair shop of the auto dealer and not a repair shop not associated with the dealer. Getting a free vehicle to drive temporarily won’t solve your lemon problem, but it can help prevent transportation problems for the time being.


  1. Provide Repair Records Showing the Car has an Unfixable Defect


As mentioned earlier, always get copies of your repair records from the auto dealer. Your dealer is obligated to provide the records at your request. A documented history of the persistent problem(s) with your car can be crucial for proving the car is a legal lemon. If you need to hire an attorney, he or she will almost certainly want to see an official record of repair attempts.   

  1. Provide a Replacement Vehicle at the Manufacturer’s Request


If your car meets lemon law requirements for your state, you have the right to obtain a remedy. Sometimes, the manufacturer will buy back a lemon car. In other cases, the manufacturer provides a replacement vehicle of the same make, model, and options. Although the process for getting this relief is different in each state, you must always notify the manufacturer of the defect(s). The manufacturer, not the auto dealer, is actually the party that provides the remedy.

Although getting stuck with a lemon car is never easy and can be supremely frustrating, the steps above can help you get relief from your new, expensive piece of junk, otherwise known as a “lemon car”.