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Used Car Law - What Should I Know About Used Car Laws?

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You may have had bad experiences with a used car and are wondering what legal recourses are available to you. Thankfully, there may be a used car law on the books in your state that can provide you some protection.

The field of law that a used car law usually falls under is referred to as lemon laws. Lemons laws refer to laws that are enacted to protect consumers from the actions of companies and individuals who sell those consumers products that are riddled with serious defects. The designation of a product as a lemon comes from the fact that the item can not be repaired during a warranty period to the point it works as well as originally described to the customer.

When a lemon can not be repaired during a warranty period, the customer is essentially stuck with the lemon. The only redress available to that consumer is through legal action. The legal options available to that consumer are usually outlined in different lemon laws. Since most issues with used cars are due to how they were not quite as described to the consumer, a used car law is almost always a kind of lemon law.

There are many different used car laws in this area of law. However, in general, if you buy or lease a used car that develops a significant defect during your first year of ownership, you may be able to use a used car law to seek legal protection. This defect, though, must be very significant. It must severely impact the value, performance, operation, or safety of the vehicle. The standards that determine how significant a defect can be before a used car is deemed a lemon, however, must be determined by a court interpreting that state’s lemon laws. These laws may vary greatly from state to state.

For example, in New York, the protections provided under lemon laws apply to used cars as well. One such New York used car law in fact states that in order to sell a used car the dealer must provide customers with a warranty on that car. Things this warranty must cover include the alternator, brakes, drive axel, engine, ignition system, generator, radiator, starter, and steering system.

The dealer must pay to reimburse the used car owner for repairs needed for fix any defects to these systems he or she experiences with in the warranty period. How long this warranty period lasts is determined by how many miles are on the used car at the point of purchase. For example, if there is 36,000 miles or less on the car, the warranty will last for either 90 days or 4,000 miles. On the other hand, if the car has 80,000 to 100,000 miles, the warranty will only last for 30 days or 1,000 miles.

There is one strong exception to this used car law however. If the car is sold for less than $1,500 or the car has more than 100,000 miles on it at the point of purchase, the dealer does not have to provide a warranty with that used car.

However, there is some very good news for used car owners who do not fall under that exception. If the problems with a vehicle under a still active warranty are not fixed after three professional repairs or the car remains out of service for at least 15 days, the dealer must provide that car owner with either a replacement vehicle or a refund.

Another state with a very specific used car law is Indiana. In some cases, a car that was proven to be a lemon may be resold by a dealer. An Indiana used car law, however, requires that the dealer inform any would be purchasers of the car in writing that the car was in fact returned to the dealer as a lemon. If the dealer does not do this, the dealer may be held liable. If that is the case, the dealer will have to refund the used car owner for the price of the vehicle.

However, other states may not have very strong protections for used car owners. This is why it’s always important to review every used car law in your state before you make the decision to purchase one.

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