by Heather Listhartke
Many of us have heard stories or knows someone who has had to deal with a “lemon” vehicle, but might wonder what exactly is the law, how does it work, and what does it cover.
The lemon law was created in order to protect customers when buying new vehicle from having a problem car. While some states have a law that covers certain circumstances in the case of both new and used vehicles, Tennessee’s law only covers in the case of new vehicles.
So what exactly is a lemon? It is a vehicle that has been manufactured after 1987, sold new, that has a defect that impairs the functioning of the vehicle. If there have been three attempts to repair the vehicle or the case has been out of commission for a total of 30 days or more, the manufacturer must replace the vehicle or refund the purchase price (minus usage allowance). This means that if the vehicle proves unreliable or unsafe for normal operation, then the vehicle may be a lemon and the issue is covered by the law.
The lemon law is in effect for the first year after the vehicle is delivered. This generally means that the issue must be reported during that time frame. You must write the manufacturer to notify them of the problem through certified mail. The manufacturer then has the opportunity to repair your car within 10 days. If they cannot fix the vehicle, you must go through their procedure in order to get the refund or replacement of the vehicle. You, however, are not bound by the decision that is made and can still seek reimbursement through legal means. The lawsuit must be filed within one year of the delivery or within six months from the expiration of the warranty, whichever is later. This does not include extended warranties.
So what about used vehicles? They are governed by different rules specifically the FTC’s used car rule. If you are considering buying a used vehicle, the key thing to know is to research, research, research. The dealer is required to let you know about any previous damage, accidents, and issues on the vehicle. You can ask for a car report, and do your own research on the vehicle. If they don’t provide that information or aren’t willing to meet that demand, you shouldn’t buy from them. You should also ask to bring the vehicle to a mechanic of your choice. Again, if they aren’t willing to let that happen, don’t do it. I brought my old versa before I brought it to my mechanic who found something that might have been an issue. It allowed me to bring it up with the dealer, who not only brought it to their own mechanic to check it out fully and make sure it wasn’t anything but wrote that as an exception to their “as is” rule since it was a concern brought up before I bought the vehicle. If you happen to find something, bring it up with them, and the good dealers will work with you.
That being said, sometimes things do get past us, and things happen. If the vehicle breaks down in the first 3-5 days, bring it back to the dealer and work with them to resolve the issue. Most places will work with you and do what they need to do in order to both satisfy you and get that referral for future customers.