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Released: May 02, 2005
Help Desk FAQ
I think my car is a lemon. What are my rights?
Lemon laws vary by state. A car is presumed to be a "lemon" if it has to be returned repeatedly to the dealer for the same repair. Your right to return the car for a full refund or a replacement is triggered when the dealer has had one or two chances to fix the car in the case of a serious safety problem, such as defective brakes or steering, or more opportunities to repair other types of problems.
For more about lemon cars, visit Consumers for Auto Reliability and Safety (CARS), run by top auto safety expert Rosemary Shahan.
According to Shahan, writing to the auto manufacturer is the most foolproof way to give notice as legally required by the lemon law. Tell the manufacturer the Vehicle Identification Number (VIN) and that you consider the vehicle to be a lemon, and intend to use the lemon law. List all the problems you have experienced, starting with the worst ones. Send your letter to the address in the owner's manual, via certified mail, so you have proof it was received. Keep a copy for your records, and keep the receipt showing the letter was delivered.
If you disagree with the manufacturer's settlement offer, you may have to go through arbitration.
Find a lawyer who specializes in lemon law at The National Association of Consumer Advocates.
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