It's a great feeling to drive a brand-new car directly off the dealer's lot. The easy, smooth acceleration when you pull onto the highway. The smell of the leather interior, fresh carpets and never-before-used electronics. Adjusting the buttons and dials of the amenities that only come with a new automobile. It reminds you of what the thrill of driving and car ownership is about.
Until six months later when you've found yourself at the dealership for repairs for the fifth time, that is. That's when you have to ask yourself, "Did they sell me a lemon?"
What is a lemon?
You may have heard of a car that's constantly in and out of the shop being called a lemon. The State of Maryland looks deeper than that.
Maryland have some of the strongest consumer fraud protection and lemon laws in the nation. If you've been sold a new car that is repeatedly failing, you may be eligible for a complete refund or a replacement vehicle from the dealer.
According to the Maryland Department of Transportation, the first two steps in determining if your car, light truck or motorcycle is a lemon are identifying that it is:
- Registered in Maryland
- Has less than 18,000 miles and is less than 24 months old
If that's true and you have suffered even one of the following, you may have been sold a lemon:
- Your vehicle has been repaired four or more times for the same problem.
- You have been unable to use your vehicle for 30 days due to waiting for repairs.
- The brakes or steering system has had to be repaired and still does not meet safety inspection laws.
Be sure to keep a detailed record of all the repairs that the dealership makes to your vehicle. Write a report on each incident, including your make, model, year and VIN, the name of your dealership and the problem and the repairs the dealership attempted. These reports may be invaluable should you have to communicate with the manufacturer.
On the road to a lemon
It may be the situation that your vehicle is not a lemon but seems to be on its way to being classified as one. You still have options in this situation if you are covered by warranty.
If your dealership is having difficulty successfully making the repair, speak to another dealership that offers the same type of car. They may have a more experienced staff, more scheduling availability or better parts and tools on hand. They may be the solution you need.
You may also contact the vehicle's manufacturer. Be sure to include reports on the issues you've been having. The vehicle manufacturer will generally have 30 days to remedy your problem from the time they receive your correspondence.
There's a true feeling of accomplishment when you're able to buy a new car, truck or motorcycle from a dealership. It's a testament to your hard work and smart savings - don't let it be cheapened by being stuck with a lemon.