The importance of rigid lemon laws continues to be acknowledged by lawmakers.
Last week, new legislation was signed into effect for the state of New
Jersey expanding coverage to assist automobile and motorcycle drivers
who suffer a defect within the first two years or 24,000 miles which cannot
be fixed after three repair attempts, or whose vehicles are in the shop
20 or more days during the 2 year or 24,000 miles period. The previous
period was limited to approximately a year of usage.
Additionally, if a defect which could cause serious bodily injury or death
occurs in the first 2 years or 24,000 miles, the manufacturer has only
one repair attempt to fix the problem before a consumer can file a lemon
But filing a
lemon law claim—just as in any legal claim—means having proof. In this
case, it means having proof that the dealer and manufacturer were given
the opportunity to repair the defect. In many states, including California,
this means four repair attempts. To substantiate a lemon law claim, a
consumer must present work orders from the dealership documenting these
“When your vehicle is repaired, never leave without your copy of
the repair order,” said Norman Taylor, leading California lemon
law attorney. “Read it. Most important of all, if anything in the
repair order is even slightly inaccurate in any way, do not sign it. If
you sign something without reading it, it will be presumed accurate and
you may lose the paper chase.”
Taylor understands such details well. He has been a lemon law specialist
since 1987, and he and his firm, Norman Taylor and Associates, have handled
over 8,000 cases for consumers with a 98 percent success rate.
“One of the tests for determining whether a vehicle is a lemon is
whether there have been repeated attempts for the same problem,”
Taylor explained further. “To avoid this, the dealership will often
write up the same problem in different ways to make it look like different
problems. This is subtle, and you might not even notice it, so pay attention
when the service writer at the dealership fills in your repair order.”
As an example, you might describe a problem as “check engine light
comes on, car stalls.” The service writer suggests it might be something
wrong with the emission Control System, so he writes down “ESC problem.”
This is not what you said, but if you sign it, you accept it.
The bottom line: make sure you always obtain accurate repair orders from
a dealership. And if you think you are driving a lemon, contact a qualified
lemon law attorney right away.