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.
FACT: The first lemon laws were passed in 1982 in California and Connecticut. Since then every state has enacted consumer protection laws about defective automobiles.