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The Lemon Law and The Importance of Warranties

Lemon Law

Chances are, if you’ve purchased a dud of a car from someone, and you’ve continuously sunk money into it, that people have cited the Lemon Law to you.  However, most people don’t fully realize what exactly The Lemon Law covers.  Gray area surrounding the details of a law meant to protect people is never a good thing.  There is too much room for error, and the chance exists of it being translated incorrectly and people being taken across because they think they’re entitled to a certain level of protection that doesn’t exist.

First and foremost, you should start by working with a reputable car dealership. While each states parameters differ slightly, the Lemon Law essentially covers consumers when they purchase an item that repeatedly fails to meet necessary standards.  Unfortunately, most people believe that the law applies to a used vehicle that was purchased and repeatedly breaks down, but that’s not necessarily true, thus reinforcing the need for extensive research and a mechanic’s seal of approval when purchasing a pre-owned car.

The Lemon Law deals mainly with the manufacturer, not the seller.  Started in 1975 and called the Magnuson-Moss Warranty Act, the Lemon Law was enacted to cover consumers that had purchased items that seemingly had repeated manufacturer defects.  This forced manufacturers to offer warranties to cover said consumers in the event that their product was defective from the start.  Warranties are of the utmost importance to protect both the manufacturer from lawsuits, and the consumer from extensive repair costs.

This law covers vehicles purchased with a warranty, and forces the manufacturer to cover what they say they will cover.  In the event of the purchase of a vehicle with massive internal issues, the Lemon Law is what will allow the safety of the consumer by enforcing the stipulations of the warranty.  Customers who purchase vehicles from dealers in “as-is” condition, are not protected by this law.  While it is unfortunate, even when you’re purchasing from a quality and reputable business, a car in as-is condition is in no way a bargain.

We hear commercials and see blog posts touting the excellent warranties that some manufacturers offer, and we question why the need exists for such warranties.  As human beings, we are trained to believe that if something sounds too good to be true, it probably is.  So, by default we think that if a manufacturer is offering a very good warranty then it must mean that they believe something is going to happen with one of their vehicles.  This simply isn’t the case.

Put yourself in a manufacturers shoes for a second.  Car repairs are costly, we all know this, and while they may be less expensive for manufacturers or dealerships, it still means an expenditure that they didn’t anticipate.  Therefore, offering a solid and full coverage warranty means what?  Does it mean that they’re nervous that their cars are going to become defective somewhere down the road or does it mean that they’re simply using an age old procedure of covering themselves in the event something does happen?

Not all things that seem too good to be true, actually are.  Some fantastic warranties are put in place because they manufacturer knows they’re delivering a quality item, but if something does go wrong, they want to know that the coverage is there.  They wouldn’t offer fantastic warranties if they were sure something was going to go wrong with every single car they put out.  Consider it, would you guarantee something for a long time if you knew something major was going to go wrong two or three years in?  Absolutely not, you’d slap a two year guarantee on it and call it a day.

Another thing to consider is having any pre-owned car checked out by a mechanic you trust.  Your personal mechanic is going to be a lot more prepared to answer your difficult and possibly paranoid questions than the dealership’s mechanic.  That mechanic is part of the company, so therefore, he may have a vested interest in the purchase of that car.  A salesman, in the end, is still a salesman and he has to put food on his table as well.

This is not to say that dealerships intentionally sell cars in poor condition.  Most salespeople find themselves heavily invested in their customers and want to please them, because it will mean repeat business.  Sometimes, however, there is a car that looks great, runs well, and gets the certification from your personal mechanic that it is a quality purchase and then everything goes south.  In this instance, you want to blame the person from whom you purchased the car, but ask yourself a question first.  Did they offer an extended warranty or did they sell the car as-is with no legal recourse?

Sometimes a year long additional warranty when purchasing a pre-owned car will add a good bit of money to the price tag.  When you’re desperate for a new vehicle and short on cash, these are the little things we think we can skimp on.  Five months down the road, when your car is sitting on the street outside your house with a blown head gasket and a bad transmission, which price tag would you have rather paid?  The extra $1000 or the $3500 you’re going to have to sink into the car simply so you’re able to drive it?

A lot of people use the lemon law to think they can cover any vehicle that repeatedly displays mechanical issues, but this is not the case.  The law is in effect to make sure people are offering warranties and carrying out their intentions with those warranties.  If you, as a driver, choose to skip the warranty, the buck, unfortunately, stops with you.  Think before you buy, always.

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