Federal law protects consumers stuck with a lemon. Learn how you can use it to your advantage.
Step 1: Know your rights and obligations Know that while federal law protects you, it does not define what a lemon is. Prove your car is in fact a lemon according to your state's laws.
Tip Federal laws that protect car buyers are the Magnusson-Moss Act and the Uniform Commercial Code. Some states have lemon laws, while others rely on a patchwork of other laws.
Step 2: Find out your state's laws Find out how your state defines a lemon. Definitions might include a major auto defect not fixed after two to four attempts, or a car out of service for a specific time period or number of miles.
Step 3: Keep copies of everything Keep copies of your purchase contract and all service orders and invoices for repairs and regular maintenance, together with all warranties and your owner's manual.
Step 4: Take detailed notes Take notes on all conversations with the dealer and service technicians. Record the date and time, any comments, and attempted repairs.
Step 5: Ask for TSBs Ask the dealer for a copy of all manufacturers' technical service bulletins on your car.
Step 6: Track repair time Track all time your vehicle is in the shop for repairs. Note the date of each visit, the time in and out, and the reason.
Step 7: Get a lawyer Hire a lawyer who specializes in lemon laws for your state. The initial consultation should be free.
Did You Know? The first lemon laws were passed in 1982 in California and Connecticut. Since then every state has enacted consumer protection laws about defective automobiles.