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When You've Soured on Your New Car

For some people, the excitement of driving a new vehicle quickly dissipates with the emergence of a significant malfunction, defect, or other problem that wasn't part of the deal. To meet the criteria of "lemon," a vehicle must have a substantial defect that presents itself within the warranty limits, or continue to have the defect after a reasonable number of attempts to fix it.

Generally speaking, when a defect occurs that is not caused by the owner after purchase- unlike, say, someone driving their car into a lake - and it impairs the use, value, or safety of the vehicle, then it's considered "substantial".

If your car meets the terms of substantial defect, the dealer and/or manufacturer get a "reasonable" number of cracks at repairing it. Up to four repair attempts is commonly considered reasonable, but serious safety defects may qualify after just one attempt. A car may also be deemed a lemon if it has exceeded "x" number of days in the shop in a given year.

If you qualify as the not-so-proud owner of a lemon, you have the right to a refund or replacement car. If the manufacturer offers a settlement you're not happy with, proceed to arbitration.

Lemon-law arbitration is a free, non judicial process in which an arbitrator analyzes all the information of the case and determines what the reward should be. In most states, arbitration is binding on the manufacturer, however, the consumer may appeal the decision in court.


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