Understanding Your Rights Regarding Your New Car

Getting a driver’s license is a major milestone. It symbolizes freedom and responsibility. You can go wherever you want to go, but you’re risking your safety and the value of your car every time you get behind the wheel. For many, their first big purchase is their first car. It is a milestone, because it is the first major piece of property you own. It means you own your own transportation. You’re independent of parents who can take the keys away. However, many are afraid to buy or lease a car. They are worried about what may happen if they buy a car that happens to be defective or have something go wrong with it. Yet that isn’t necessary, because lemon laws were written for exactly this reason.

What is a lemon?

The term lemon is applied to any car that turns out to be defective. It looked like a sweet ride, but the problems with your new car leave a bitter taste in your mouth. After horror stories of people taking new cars back to the shop again and again, never truly getting it repaired or wasting as much money as the cost of a replacement vehicle, state legislatures passed lemon laws to protect consumers.

What are your rights under a lemon law?

Lemon laws protect consumers in a number of ways. First, dealers have to fix issues that appear in nearly new and barely used cars they sold to you. They have to do this at their expense. If the problem made the car dangerous to drive, they have one try to fix it or else replace the car. Alternatively, they can give you your money back. If the issue affects the value or usability of the car but doesn’t make it outright dangerous – think electrical glitches with the dashboard instead of brakes that went out – they have four tries and a total of thirty days in the shop to fix it.

When do lemon laws apply?

Lemon laws were passed by the states and only apply in those states. For example, the lemon law in New York only covers cars purchased from a dealer in New York. If you live in New Jersey but bought the car in New York, New York’s laws apply. Lemon laws cover issues that are due to manufacturing defects. It isn’t their fault or repair bill if your car is flooded when you drive into a stream you think you can cross.

Lemon laws don’t apply if you damaged the car by adding after-market parts. Lemon laws don’t cover damage from accidents or wear and tear. This is why lemon laws in New York don’t cover defects that arise after you’ve had the car for two years or driven it more than 18,000 miles. Lemon laws don’t cover private sales or the sale of vehicles sold as-is.

What happens if lemon laws don’t apply to my car purchase?

New York offers more protection to those who buy used cars from dealers than other states. This isn’t part of the lemon law but a separate warranty statutes. These warranty statues set a warranty for major, expensive components in the car. The warranty’s length depends on the age of the car and how far it has been driven. The warranty term will be anywhere from one to three months unless you’re buying a car with more than 100,000 miles on it.

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