Nathan DeLadurantey is a consumer rights attorney in Wisconsin. Mr. DeLadurantey represents and litigates consumer fraud cases against businesses like auto dealers, repairs shops and repossession agencies that violate consumer laws and regulations. In the following article, Nathan DeLadurantey discusses the frequently asked lemon law questions he receives at his firm, with a detailed explanation of what these laws are, how they protect consumers, and what constitutes a vehicle as a lemon.
Roughly 150,000 cars purchased every year in the United States are lemons. In other words, they’re cars that have repeated, irreparable issues explains Nathan DeLadurantey, attorney. Due to this unfortunate statistic, every state has created its own version of the lemon law to help consumers who would otherwise be stuck with defective vehicles.
Nathan DeLadurantey says that by understanding these laws can be the difference between owners getting a refund or replacement or wasting thousands of dollars.
Understanding Lemon Laws
Lemon laws change depending on the state reports Nathan DeLadurantey. Typically, they cover new vehicle purchase
Consumers tend to have a limited window of time to report their vehicle as a lemon. For instance, the timeframe is 12 months in Wisconsin according to Lemon Law attorney Nathan DeLadurantey.
The laws were enacted by state and federal governments to reduce lemon problems — circumstances where manufacturers sell a damaged and potentially dangerous vehicle.
The beginning of the 20th century marked the start of the movement toward government-regulated consumer goods. However, the true flagship was the Magnuson-Moss Warranty Act of 1975, that only covered items sold with a warranty explains Nathan DeLadurantey.
New Cars Can Also Be Lemons
According to Nathan DeLadurantey, attorney, and the federal government, new cars can also be deemed a lemon if they meet the following criteria:
The purchased new vehicle experienced a defect within the first year that seriously impacted the value, use, or safety of the car.
The dealer failed to fix the defects four times (i.e., the dealer has made “reasonable repair attempts”), or the owner couldn’t use the vehicle for at least 30 days due to the issues.
Reasonable Repair Attempts
Nathan DeLadurantey says that owners must allow the manufacturer or dealer to perform a reasonable number of attempts to fix the substantial defect before their vehicle can legally be considered a lemon.
Vehicles must meet one of these standards to be covered under the state’s lemon law:
- The vehicle has a serious safety defect (i.e., involving the steering or brakes) that remains unfixed after a single repair attempt.
- The serious safety defect has remained unfixed after four attempts.
- The vehicle has been at the repair shop for at least 30 days over 12 months to fix one or more warranty defects.
Most state lemon laws cover new cars, allowing owners to file a claim on brand-new vehicles.
How to File under Lemon Law on a New Vehicle
Before filing a lemon law case, car owners must notify the manufacturer of the reoccurring issues. If they deem the vehicle qualifiable for lemon law status, the manufacturer themselves should issue a refund or replacement vehicle.
To ensure the case runs smoothly, Nathan DeLadurantey, attorney says that owners should keep all the documents, from the initial purchase receipt to proof of repair attempts. That way, evidence is on their side.
If an individual is unsatisfied with how the car’s manufacturer is handling the resolution negotiations, arbitration is often the next step before heading to court.
Legal professionals across the country recommend anyone who wants to make a lemon law claim seeks legal advice and guidance. Experienced attorneys like Nathan DeLadurantey can decide the best course of action, ensuring clients receive the compensation they deserve.
Filing on a Used Vehicle
New car lemon laws don’t apply to used vehicles. However, some states, like Wisconsin, give consumers similar rights for used car purchases.
According to DeLadurantey, the state protects consumers (albeit in very specific situations) when buying used vehicles from dealerships.
Wisconsin law requires all dealerships to conduct a pre-sale safety inspection, during which, they must fill out a checklist dubbed the “Wisconsin Buyers’ Guide.”
Consumers must closely review the Buyers’ Guide when buying a vehicle. However, if they didn’t receive one (or they were given an incomplete or untrue account), they’re entitled to pursue legal action with an attorney by their side. As per the DeLadurantey Law professionals, they regularly sue dealerships for failing to provide the mandatory Buyers’ Guide.
What Happens When a Lemon is Purchased
Individuals who purchase a lemon vehicle may receive monetary refunds or a replacement vehicle. The outcome depends on the car’s manufacturer and the strength of the lemon law case.
To be in with the best chance of success, people filing a claim should ensure they keep evidence of:
- service attempts
- phone records
- communications with the dealership or manufacturer
- any additional information else that could bolster the case, photos are a plus!
Since navigating lemon laws can be tricky, owners should always seek legal advice before pursuing action.