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What is Lemon Law?

There’s a whole bunch of different law types out there, from Tort law, and constitutional law, to criminal law, but have you ever heard of Lemon Law? And no, it’s not a term that refers to spending too long on a date that is going nowhere. Technically, lemon laws are American state laws – a subcategory of automobile law. The intention of the lemon law is to reduce the amount of potentially dangerous, poorly functioning cars (also known as lemons) available for sale and on the road.

How lemon laws accomplish this task varies depending on the jurisdiction, with some Western countries and even a few in the Far East building up their enforcement efforts on untrustworthy cars. Subject to minor variation, if an automobile manufacturer cannot fix a major issue with a vehicle within a reasonable amount of time, they’re obligated by law to buy back any cars sold if the owners pursue that option. Cars are returned directly to the manufacturers, individual dealerships play no part in the repurchasing process.

Why Are There Lemon Laws?

Compared to other consumer goods, cars are distinct in that improper operation from a single driver can end up roping multiple vehicles into an unfortunate jam. Before lemon laws, there was less regulation around cars that did not operate reliably and that the manufacturer “refurbished” at an extremely glacial pace.

Now that proper legislation is in place, if a manufacturer cannot pledge to make cars as road safe as possible, anyone with the vehicle can sell their vehicle back to the manufacturer for a full refund. If an automotive brand can’t stand behind their products that are on the road next to others just trying to get from point A to point B, the overall risk to society just isn’t worth it. The next logical step is the enactment of lemon laws that put the onus on car companies to ensure that their vehicles are thoroughly tested, industry approved, and fully functional top to bottom right off the dealer’s lot. It doesn’t always end up.

What Does This Mean Now?

Large scale sales of shoddily made vehicles or vehicles that haven’t undergone proper testing are mainly a thing of the past. Many people end up with these cars by complete random chance, if and once they figure out the car is a lemon it is important that they have access to someone who knows how to navigate the system. A core tenet of the Dana Point lemon law attorney philosophy is being able to work not only as an advocate but a facilitator of otherwise complex procedures to increase overall expediency in either getting your vehicle fixed or your money returned promptly. No matter what kind of professional you end up hiring, they’ll ideally focus on working as a liaison between the people who can perform the work necessary and the interests of the individual car owner. As stated earlier, companies would prefer to process their clientele as quickly and cheaply as possible. Attorneys are motivated to bring these two groups of people together as gracefully as possible.

How The Auto Industry Adapted

As a consequence of lemon laws having heavily benefited consumers, mass-production vehicle manufacturers were compelled to ensure that pertinent safety concerns were dealt with as comprehensively as possible. Overall build quality became more consistent, resulting in fewer cars leaving dealership showroom floors with mechanical issues. The thought of hundreds of thousands of consumer vehicles having fatal flaws but still going to market is terrifying. And it needn’t have necessarily been anyone’s intentional fault. Designers may not have considered certain conditions resulting in flaws not being discovered until a pattern emerges, months, and even years, after launch, resulting in a mass recall of certain vehicle models.

The Many Ways To Benefit

While hoping for the manufacturer to update the vehicle or a fully-fledged repurchase agreement isn’t an unrealistic goal, there are many ways that car companies settle their debts with consumers. In many cases, repairs done by a third party to the standards of the car manufacturers specification will be reimbursed in full.

Receiving a different model replacement vehicle isn’t an uncommon compromise offered by prominent automakers. Depending on the make and your particular wants and needs, there’s a fair chance you’ll get lucky and find something that’ll end up being just peachy. Vehicle brands invest a fair amount of money into not having to resort to buying back the vehicle and still turn a profit, so there are a lot of alternative payment plans meant to keep people happy.

One noteworthy aspect of repurchase agreements is that the brand has every incentive to fix the vehicle as opposed to giving the customer an arguably fair buyback rate. Only a certain amount of repair attempts will be tolerated before the brand has no choice but to pay out their former customers. For vehicles to qualify, the egregious vehicle features must be substantial and demonstrably reduce the usability of the car.

In short, lemon laws are on the books to work as a consumer protection initiative. It cemented the implied responsibilities a dealership has to prospective clients as well as helped begin the modern trend towards stellar safety features or simplified mechanical parts. Each vehicle was to perform within a narrow set of parameters, each of which is well within the requirements of local governments. Statistically significant numbers of vehicles on the road with embarrassing issues pretty much constitutes a public safety issue, so the government has essentially cracked the whip and forced manufacturers to produce safe, quality vehicles responsibly. At first, many in the industry found the laws inconvenient, they spurred the development of more advanced safety technology that ultimately made the lives of automotive industry workers a lot simpler. It’s a no brainer, cars should be sold to the public in a safe condition, period.

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