The lemon law allows consumers of a recently purchased “new” vehicle to sell it back when the same defect presents after making three attempts to have it repaired. It turns out that these laws have done a lot more than protect consumers from overreaching or unethical business practices by automakers – the laws have actually protected the automakers as well, because they led to a reduced number of lawsuits.
That means everyone has a bit more money to spend when nothing goes wrong.
A century ago, there were no laws in place to prevent unethical automakers or dealership owners from taking advantage of the consumer. When nothing stops the rich and powerful from doing something wrong, it turns out they will usually do something wrong. Vehicles a hundred years ago were much more likely to break down soon after purchase, leaving the consumer to deal with the financial reality of the situation.
Now, you can venture pretty much anywhere to ask someone how their new vehicle is performing. The answer is pretty much the same: “my car is running perfectly.”
Mark Anderson, a consumer protection attorney who works as a lemon law attorney in San Francisco, said, “Cars have become much more reliable. So you don’t have the pattern of repeated repairs for the same defect and still not resolved.”
But what is great for manufacturers and consumers isn’t so great for lawyers who make a living through valid lawsuits. Anderson continued, “The manufacturers, understandably, got sick of being sued. If a customer calls, for example, General Motors, they will often just buy back the car. Give them their money back, according to the lemon law. They don’t have to hire a lawyer and it just gets done that way.”
Of course there are always exceptions to the rule. Manufacturers don’t always get it right. Vehicles break down even when they’re made according to high standards. Lemon law attorneys will take on those cases, but they will also use vehicle recalls to increase their available work. Unfortunately, there will always be recalls because of defective parts or potentially dangerous situations.
Not all vehicles are always covered by the lemon law – motorcycles, for example – but in those cases the federal Magnuson-Moss Warranty Act of 1975 still forces manufacturers to uphold any warranties they write for themselves. Those with questions about how to apply the lemon law to their defective vehicle can make inquiries to the Pennsylvania Attorney General’s Bureau of Consumer Protection by calling 1-800-441-2555.