As a consumer who spent tens of thousands of dollars on a vehicle, you expected that it would be in the condition that you were told it was in. You thought that your vehicle would last for many years without any significant mechanical failures and that the warranties on the product would protect you if a problem did arise.
When your vehicle stopped working after around 500 miles, you knew something was wrong. You had hardly used it, yet nothing was working the way it should. Did you buy a lemon? What can you do about it? What protections do you really have if you want to return the vehicle to get something that actually works?
Buying used? You don’t have many protections
If you buy used, you’re not going to get a “lemon” per se. The term “lemon” in PA applies to new vehicles only. So, if you want protection against dealership fraud or being sold a bad vehicle, you should work with a mechanic and be sure that you have an opportunity to return the vehicle within a certain amount of time after taking it away from the lot. Look for those details in your purchasing contract.
Pennsylvania’s definition of a defect
If you want to return your new vehicle because it isn’t working correctly, you will need to see if it falls under the Automobile Lemon Law. This defines defects as those that are nonconforming to warranties and that significantly affect the safety, market value or use of the vehicle.
Lemon laws don’t protect you against every motor vehicle defect. It also doesn’t protect you if you buy a used motor vehicle under most circumstances. Instead, you’re limited to making a claim only when your vehicle is new, within the first two years of its life or under 12,000 miles.
Looking at the law, there are few protections for used purchases
Essentially, your best bet at getting the law to protect you in Pennsylvania is to show that you purchased a new vehicle from a dealership or manufacturer with a warranty and that it was a lemon that failed to run as expected.
Knowing that the lemon law is not as expansive as it could be in some other states, you should be cautious when you purchase a vehicle in Pennsylvania. Always do your research. Bring a mechanic with you to look at the vehicle and make sure it runs as it should. That way, you will have the best opportunity to avoid buying a lemon and having supporting evidence if you do end up with one.