There are very few things more satisfying than buying a new car. There is great pride of ownership and a feeling of accomplishment and pride as you drive around town in your new vehicle. For most of us, that new car excitement lasts until we must make our first payment or until we get our first parking lot ding. For an unlucky few, they wish these were only negatives that they had to worry about.
These unlucky few are people who find themselves with an automobile that will, after much frustration and exhaustion on part of owner, be classified on a lemon.
So just what is a lemon car? After all, we've all had occasional breakdown of some part of our car. And no matter when it happens, it is extremely inconvenient (and often quite expensive.) When does "regular wear and tear" flow into realm of having a true lemon.
Typically a lemon is a new vehicle (or in some states a used vehicle under certain circumstances) that has had a large number of repair attempts on a single defect or an overall large number of repair attempts overall. It can also include just a single repair attempt on a portion of car where failure could be a life threatening situation. Each state has their own lemon law warranty act and each of them defines what will make a vehicle a lemon. For instance, in California, a lemon automobile can be summarized as follows:
Vehicles Covered by California Lemon Law - California lemon law covers any new motor vehicle used primarily for family, personal or household purposes. It also includes chassis portion of motor homes.
Repair Interval / Coverage Period Details - To be considered a lemon law vehicle in California , vehicle must either be out of service for 30 calendar days or have 2 repair attempt for a defect that could cause death or a serious injury or have 4 repairs for same defect. The coverage period is for 18 months or 18,000 miles, whichever occurs first.
(Lemon law summaries and statutes for all 50 states and Washington DC can be found at Lemon Law Resources website at http://www.lemonlawresources.com.)
If you believe your car is a lemon, it is very important that you have proper records to show this. That means that each time you go to your service center, it is very important that they record exactly what you believe problem is in car and specify what they did to try to solve problem. You need to do this for two reasons. First, you will need these records when making a claim for restitution. Second, for these "mystery" problems, dealers will try many different things and it may not be clear to an adjuster that they were all related unless you ensure this is case on receipts.