Lemon law is a lesser-known policy in the United States. When most people learn about lemon law, it’s because they have purchased or leased a defective vehicle – and are trying to return it. The lemon law covers a plethora of vehicles, including both trucks and SUVs. But is there a difference between the two?
On the surface, the same lemon laws apply to both qualified trucks and SUVs. However, each situation is different – and both must meet certain criteria to be ruled a lemon.
Unfortunately, you can’t simply take a defective truck/SUV back to the dealer or manufacturer with a receipt and expect a full refund – it’s not like Walmart. To be legally ruled a lemon, the vehicle must meet the state’s qualifications. In this post, we discuss why your truck or SUV may (or may not) be a lemon.
1. What is Lemon Law?
Lemon law – known as the Magnuson-Moss Consumer Warranty Act – was enacted in 1975. The purpose of this law is to hold manufacturers accountable for selling defective vehicles (including trucks and SUVs), per the warranty terms. This means consumers who purchased or leased a defective vehicle can seek benefits under lemon law if the defect occurred during the warranty period.
Now, lemon law exists on the federal level, but the details of the law differ from state to state.
2. Federal vs. State Lemon Law
Federal lemon law provides a broad scope of benefits to consumers. However, the federal monetary remedies tend to be more limited than states’ lemon laws.
For instance, if you win a lemon law case at the state level, you are eligible to recoup the full purchase price of the truck or SUV. Under federal lemon law, you may only be eligible for the difference between what you originally paid for the vehicle and what you would have paid if you knew about the defects.
As previously mentioned, lemon laws are different in every state. These differences boil down to what qualifies a vehicle as a lemon. The major differences between states typically involve:
- The number of unsuccessful repair attempts needed by the manufacturer to rule a vehicle a lemon.
- The timeframe in which the consumer must report the defect to the manufacturer.
- Whether the vehicle is new or used.
Most states’ lemon laws only cover vehicles that were purchased new with the original manufacturer warranty. A few states expand benefits to used vehicles purchased with a dealer warranty or implied warranty of merchantability.
3. What Vehicles Are Covered Under Lemon Law?
The lemon law covers a plethora of vehicles – that extends beyond cars. As long as it’s sold with a manufacturer warranty, the following vehicle types are covered under lemon law:
- Recreational vehicles
Lemon law generally applies to vehicles purchased or leased for personal use. However, some business vehicles may be covered. In the state of California, a defective commercial vehicle with a gross weight of under 10,000 lbs. could be eligible for benefits. Additionally, the business must have no more than five vehicles registered under its name.
If you’re a business owner, check your state’s lemon qualifications for commercial vehicles.
4. When is a Truck or SUV NOT Covered Under Lemon Law?
All truck and SUV vehicle types are technically covered under lemon law – but only if they meet the state’s qualifications. If you believe your vehicle has manufacturer defects, the first thing you’ll need to do is research your state’s lemon law qualifications. As a lemon law lawyer in California, we want to discuss the major guidelines you’ll need to know in this state:
- The defect is substantial in that it impairs the vehicle’s safety, functionality, or value; and
- The vehicle was covered under the manufacturer warranty when the defect was first reported; and
- The manufacturer has been given a reasonable number of attempts to fix the defects – usually at least two; or
- The vehicle has been out of service for repairs for 30 or more total days; and
- The defect was not caused by driver abuse or neglect.
Additionally, California’s lemon law extends to used vehicles. The vehicle must have been sold at a dealership with a written warranty or implied warranty. Dealer warranties are much shorter than manufacturer warranties; they are usually good for 30 days after purchase or before 1,000 miles accrue on the odometer. Implied warranties can be good for up to a year.
If the used vehicle is being sold “as is” – which must be clearly indicated on the buyer’s guide at the dealership – there is likely no lemon law coverage for the vehicle.
Be sure to check the qualifications of your state’s lemon law.
5. The Next Step
There is nothing more frustrating than purchasing or leasing a truck/SUV and later finding out it was defective. Not only is it inconvenient, but the manufacturer also has no intention of taking responsibility for selling you a defective vehicle.
The most important thing you can do is hire a specialized lemon law lawyer to fight for your refund. Manufacturers have some of the highest-powered legal teams money can buy. Trying to manage a claim for a defective truck or SUV on your own will be nearly impossible.
Lemon law lawyers know all the tricks and tactics manufacturers use to avoid compensating customers for their own mistakes – and will fight to hold them accountable for every penny you lost. Moreover, these attorneys work on a contingency fee agreement. This means they make a percentage of the settlement AFTER they win the case. You pay nothing out-of-pocket to hire an attorney.
If you’ve been sold a defective truck or SUV, talk to a professional lemon lawyer. Even if you don’t have a valid claim, most are happy to point you in the right direction.
Author Bio: Brian K. Cline’s Lemon Law Legal Group provides premier legal services. Our California lemon law lawyers aggressively and ethically force vehicle manufacturers to buy back defective and dangerous vehicles. Our team includes experienced trial lawyers with over 40 years of combined trial experience.