New car lemon laws what are my rights?

Recently on our legal forum a user asked, “I recently bought a new car. Soon after purchase the car broke down. I took it back to the dealership. They had it for about nine days. They never called me or gave me any updates. I eventually called them and they told me to come pick up the car. Do I have a right to get my money back or to get a new car? I don’t want a car that’s not reliable, especially after spending $25,000.”

Lemon Laws and your rights

All states have laws, referred to as “Lemon Laws,” which protect new car buyers. State Lemon Laws differ, which means that if you have had issues with a car purchase you will need to review the laws available to you in your state. With that said, we’ll discuss the laws available in the State of Texas to give you some idea of the protections you might have available in your state.

Texas Lemon Laws and getting a good car

In the State of Texas, Lemon Laws will protect new car buyers who have purchased or leased a new car which develops a defect or condition that substantially impairs the motor vehicle’s use, market value, or safety.

Before a car buyer may file a Lemon Law complaint form, however, they will have to allow the dealer to make “reasonable efforts” to repair the car.

For example, you had mentioned that you took the car back to the dealer and they were able to repair the car. Assuming there are no other issues with the car, you would NOT be able to file a Lemon Law complaint in the State of Texas. Under Texas laws, although the car initially had issues, the dealer was able to fix the issues on the first attempt- case closed.

Now, let’s assume that the issue occurred a second time. How many times are you expected to allow the manufacturer to make a repair before you can call foul? The state laws do not define “reasonable number” but they do provide guidelines.

  • The Four Times Test

-You have had to take the car to the dealership for the same issue 2 times within the first 12 months or 12,000 miles- whichever occurs first.
-You have had to take the car to the dealership 2 more times during the next 12 months or 12,000 miles following the second repair, but the problem remains.

  • The Serious Safety Hazard Test

Another issue is whether or not the defect or malfunction is considered a substantial safety risk or eliminates your ability to safely operate your car. If this is the case, the notion of reasonable be less and can include:

- You have had to take your car to the dealership once during the first 12 months or 12,000 miles.
- You have had to take your car to the dealership once more during the 12 months (or 12,000 miles) following the first repair attempt, and the problem continues.

Number of days out of service after purchase

Finally, the state also may determine the threshold of reasonable can be reached if your car has been out of service for a specific number of days after purchase.

For example, if your car is at the dealership for repairs for “a total of 30 or more days during the first 24 months or 24,000 miles, and there were at least two repair attempts during the first 12 months or 12000 miles, and the problem still exists. If no loaner vehicle was provided to you by the dealer during this time period, you pass the test.”

Bottom Line:

Although it does not sound like you have any recourse right now against the dealership for this specific car purchase, you may have additional rights if you have more issues with this car and the dealership is unable to fix the issues after “reasonable” attempts are made.

If this occurs, you will need to review the Lemon Laws in your state for more specific information about what you will need to prove to get a new car or your money back.

(Tags - car accident - loans - contracts )

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