“Lemon Laws” are individual State laws that provide protection for consumers that purchase automobiles, and car lemon reports are one way to find out whether or not a car you are considering purchasing has been deemed a “Lemon”. A Federal Law, the “Magnuson-Moss Warrany Act,” protects U.S. Citizens, but each individual State has a different interpretation of statutes designed to cover car purchases. Individual Lemon Law regulations can be found at www.lemonlaw.com. Additional information can be found at the Better Business Bureau site, www.BBB.org/US/LemonLaws, as well as AutoLemonLaws.com/YOURSTATE for individualized information. Because of the variance in Laws State to State, most automobile manufacturers have adopted Federal Standards to cover situations rather than changing their verbiage per location.
There is a clear expectation that that purchasing a new vehicle means a vehicle free from flaws. Despite the press about “lemons,” though, most new car manufacturers will do everything within their power to ensure that they do not end up in Court over a “lemon,” or have bad local or regional press about a specific car. According to the Center for Auto Safety, many automobile manufacturers have “secret warranty,” or warranty adjustment, programs. These programs are designed so that a manufacturer makes repairs for free on defects that occur after a warranty expires in order to avoid recalls. The Center estimates that there are about 500 of these sorts of agreements in place, although the manufacturer is not required to disclose the existence of a secret program for a particular vehicle defect. Be clear about the warranty information on any new car you are considering before you purchase.
In the case of a used car purchase there are two situations in which a consumer may be covered, again, depending on State: 1) Breach of warranty may have occurred if there was any warranty left on the vehicle at time of purchase, certified by the manufacturer, or an extended warranty was purchased that was backed by the Manufacturer. Both State and Federal Law usually cover these types of cases. 2) When no Manufacture’s Warranty exists you may still be entitled to production if there were previous mechanical problems known to the seller; you discover the vehicle was salvaged or wrecked and that was not disclosed; the odometer was rolled back, the vehicle was involved in a flood, or stolen and rebuilt. Most of these types of issues can now be handled by a CARFAX or AutoCheck report, and while not completely accurate, will typically raise concerns about the vehicle’s history prior to the purchase.
One interesting fact surrounding Lemon Laws is the “As Is” agreement posted on typical pre-owned vehicles. In a consumer purchases a car through a private person, rather than a dealer, there are no legally expressed or implied warranties. However, some States do not permit automobiles to be sold “as is,” regardless of who is selling. Thus, in some States there is an implied “warranty” even if it is not expressly in writing at the time of the sale.
Above all, do your homework upfront. Read information about your own State’s requirements, read the warranty information on a new or dealer supplied pre-owned vehicle, and insist on a CARFAX or AutoCheck report before you purchase.