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How Lemon Laws can protect consumers

In 1975, the federal government enacted the Magnuson-Moss Warranty Act, also known as the Lemon Law, in response to vehicle companies engaged in deceptive warranty tactics. The act gave consumers rights for replacements or refunds for a defective product. While best known for protecting motor vehicle purchases, the law also applied to appliances and machines.

Connecticut was the first state to have its own Lemon Law, leading to all 50 states, including Virginia, enacting their own statutes.

What qualifies as a “lemon”

“Lemons” that involve motorized transports are defined as having a significant defect covered by a warranty within the established time frame or the number of miles following the purchase. The Virginia Motor Vehicle Warranty Enforcement Act mandates three or more repair attempts – preferably done by the dealership – or a vehicle out of service for more than 30 days in a calendar year.

What qualifies as a defect can also become a gray area. Substantial problems should prevent the use of the car, a decrease in market value, or a safety-related matter. Defective door handles or loose knobs would likely not apply, depending on the law in the state where the vehicle was purchased.

While each state has its version of the Lemon Law, the basic premise remains the same. Consumers are entitled to compensation if they buy a faulty vehicle deemed a lemon. The law also applies to lessees as well as new car buyers.

Lemon laws have not stopped motor vehicle sellers and dealerships from engaging in bad faith practices. Consumers continue to be victimized by bad actors involved in fraudulent behavior. Help from an experienced attorney can help secure the best possible resolution.