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How can a dealer make amends for a defective new vehicle?

On Behalf of | Dec 30, 2020 | Consumer Protection

When you make the investment in a new vehicle, you expect it to arrive in pristine condition and function properly for years with good maintenance. Although it may depreciate in value as you use it, you probably expect to get more value out of it than you would out of a used car, which could come with serious issues.

Unfortunately, some people who buy a brand new car from a Pennsylvania dealership will wind up with a lemon. Vehicle defects in brand new cars occur more frequently than you might imagine. Sometimes, the issue requires only a quick fix, such as the replacement of a single defective part. Other times, there are more systemic issues that require repeat repairs or that compromise multiple systems at once.

If your vehicle is a lemon, what kind of action can you ask the dealership to take? Can you hold them accountable for selling you a new vehicle that wasn’t in brand new condition?

What constitutes a lemon?

Under Pennsylvania law, a lemon is a new vehicle that has issues that make it unsafe or dramatically reduce the vehicle’s value. Generally speaking, you have until 12 months after the date of purchase or until you’ve driven 12,000 miles in that first year of ownership to take action about a lemon that you unknowingly purchased.

You have the right to report the issue and ask for repairs

When a dealership sells you a vehicle that doesn’t properly work, you shouldn’t have to pay to repair a vehicle that should have been in working order in the first place. The dealership should perform the necessary repairs without charging you for them.

The dealership should report it to the manufacturer if you have to bring the vehicle back for the same repair twice.

If the issue lasts long enough, you can ask for a new vehicle

You may hope to keep the vehicle that you brought home and probably spent time and effort personalizing. However, in some cases, just getting a replacement vehicle will be a better option than trying to fix something with significant defects.

If the dealership can’t resolve the issue after three repair attempts or if your vehicle has been in the shop for a total of 30 days or more in that first year, you can potentially ask for a replacement vehicle of the same make and model or a similar vehicle with a comparable value.

Fighting for fair treatment from a dealership that sold you a lemon will require both an understanding of your rights and evidence that supports your claim of owning a lemon.

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