When consumers get stuck with defective vehicles that cannot be fixed despite reasonable opportunity, their warranty rights are important for several reasons. First, lemon laws are designed to simplify warranty-type claims by standardizing the definition of a defective vehicle. The terms of the warranty also will be important if a lemon law claim is based on the amount of time a vehicle has been in the shop for work rather than the number of visits. A consumer’s warranty rights also are important when seeking relief under the Magnuson-Moss Warranty Act. Ken Stern has provided an overview of consumer warranty rights related to motor vehicles.
The Federal Lemon Law (Magnuson-Moss Warranty Act)
While every state has some form of lemon law, the federal version is referred to as the “Magnuson-Moss Warranty Act.” The federal statute covers goods (including motor vehicles) that do not perform as anticipated when purchased. The Magnuson-Moss Act applies to express warranties, implied warranties, and service contracts (e.g. extended warranties on vehicles). The policy upon which the statute is based is to protect consumers from misleading or fraudulent warranties and to ensure consumers can enforce warranties when they are breached.
Specific requirements apply to full warranties, which cover situations where a vehicle fails to conform to a written warranty, or the consumer experiences defects or malfunctions. If the warranty is breached, the manufacturer can attempt to perform free repairs that must be successfully completed within a reasonable time. The federal lemon law also prohibits the vehicle manufacturer from using the express warranty to limit inherent implied warranties. If the malfunction or defect cannot be repaired after numerous attempts, the consumer has a right to a refund or replacement at no charge. The manufacturer might defend against a lemon law claim by contending the defect that caused the problem arose after the vehicle left the dealership, such as repairs by an unauthorized repair facility.
Service Contracts and Extended Warranties
This type of warranty or contract provides for repair of defects or problems after a written warranty expires. When a vehicle manifests defects or malfunctions during the term of the extended warranty or service contract, the company that offers the service contract or warranty must pay for the cost of the vehicle repairs or maintenance. The purpose of such a contract or warranty is to mitigate the risk of expensive future repairs.
Vehicles Purchased “As Is”
When a motor vehicle is sold with a tag designating the sale is “As Is,” the intent of the seller is to avoid the cost of repair or replacement if the vehicle is faulty or defective. This type of designation might shield the seller from responsibility for the cost of repairs to some extent. However, federal law still provides various protections and rights if you received or purchased a service contract or written warranty within ninety days from the sale date. An “As Is” designation also does not prevent you from pursuing legal remedies if fraud or misrepresentation was used to facilitate the transaction. Even if the sticker on the window of your vehicle was clearly marked “As Is,” you should speak to a dedicated and knowledgeable lemon law attorney about your rights and options.
When many cars, trucks or SUVs are sold, they come with a written warranty. This is the type of warranty that usually is provided by the manufacturer or retailer. The warranty will specify the parameters within which the performance or quality of the vehicle is assured. The warranty also will specify under what circumstances or conditions the vehicle can be repaired, returned, or replaced which will usually be based on a certain number of miles or period of time.
Warranties Implied by Law
There are two significant warranties created by the operation of law based on the sale or lease of a consumer good like a motor vehicle. The implied warranty of fitness for a particular purpose guarantees that the product will function appropriately for the particular purpose for which it was purchased. The other form of implied warranty is the warranty of merchantability. This warranty assures that the vehicle is fit for the ordinary use for which it is intended.
Lemon Lawyer Offering Free Consultation
Because Ken Stern has represented hundreds of consumers stuck with lemons, he has the expertise and experience to take on large automakers. He offers a free consultation and does not collect legal fees unless he obtains a recovery. Because Ken routinely obtains an attorney fee award, clients usually do not even pay a percentage of their settlement or refund toward attorney fees. You are invited to contact Stern Law, PLLC by calling 844-808-7529 or submitting a case evaluation form.