Buying a new vehicle represents a significant financial investment. When Kentucky motorists pay their hard-earned money for a car, the expectation is that the car will perform adequately and safely for years to come. But what happens when you purchase a vehicle, and it turns out to be a dud? Thankfully, there are legal protections in place to compensate drivers who buy “lemons,” including both federal and state lemon laws.
What the law states, in brief, is that an auto manufacturer must pay damages if they are unable to repair a “nonconformity” following a reasonable number of attempts. This compensation includes offsetting any attorney fees that the consumer has paid in order to see their rights under state lemon laws upheld. The nonconformity, meanwhile, refers to any issue that impedes the operation, safety, or overall value of the vehicle.
Before you can receive any kind of compensation, however, it is necessary to determine whether or not your vehicle qualifies as a lemon. We invite you to contact us at Clagett & Barnett, where you can speak with a lemon law attorney to discuss your rights and your legal standing.
In the meantime, here are some basic questions to ask as you seek to determine whether your car qualifies as a lemon.
How to Determine Whether Your Car is a Lemon
1) Do you have a used car, or did you buy it brand new?
Most people think of lemon laws purely in terms of brand-new vehicles, and indeed, Kentucky’s lemon law is only associated with vehicles that are brand new. If you have purchased a brand-new vehicle within the past year and it has given you lots of problems, then it may very well qualify as a lemon.
There are, however, legal protections in place for consumers who purchase a used car that still has the remainder of the original manufacturer’s warranty. For example, consider the Magnuson Moss Warranty Act, the first lemon law ever passed, which extends protections to used vehicles. If your vehicle still has the remainder of the manufacturer’s warranty, then the Magnuson Moss Warranty Act provides you with some legal protections. Specifically, it dictates that the warrantor must make a reasonable number of repair attempts within a reasonable span of time. If your vehicle winds up in the shop too many times for repair and is covered by the manufacturer’s warranty, then you may have legal grounds to claim compensation.
2) Did your car come with a manufacturer’s warranty?
If you bought a used car and it did not come with a manufacturer’s warranty, that means you are not protected by the state lemon law or the Federal Magnuson Moss Warranty act.
But if you did buy a used car that comes with a manufacturer’s warranty, then lemon laws do offer you some legal protection. In this case, the manufacturer is obligated to make a reasonable number of repair attempts within a reasonable timeframe.
3) Did the problems with your car occur within the first year, or within the first 12,000 miles?
Next, you will want to think about when the problems with your car actually started. If you are outside the one-year and 12,000-mile range, then you likely do not have any protections under the Kentucky lemon law. But if your automotive problems do occur within that range, then it may be time for you to talk further with an experienced lemon law attorney.
4) Has your vehicle been out of service for more than 30 calendar days?
Under the Kentucky lemon law, your vehicle should not spend too much time in the shop. If it is out of commission for more than 30 days’ time within the first year or 12,000 miles from the date of purchase, that is a violation of the lemon law, and you may have grounds to claim legal compensation.
5) Has the manufacturer attempted four or more repairs for the same issue?
The vehicle’s manufacturer may attempt to repair the vehicle multiple times. If you have had the vehicle repaired four or more times for the same issue within the first year or 12,000 miles, then you may wish to discuss your rights with a lemon law attorney.
Note that, under the lemon law, repairs need to be attempted by an authorized dealer.
Taking a Closer Look at the Lemon Law
Using the questions above, you should be able to determine whether your vehicle qualifies as a lemon. If so, we encourage you to contact an attorney to discuss your rights under Kentucky law.
It may also be helpful to understand a bit more about how the lemon law works, what it is intended to do, and how you can ensure that your rights are upheld. Here are a few general points about the lemon law and its implications for Kentucky motorists.
What makes a car a “lemon?”
At the most basic level, a lemon is any car that has not been fixed or cannot be fixed, despite a reasonable number of attempts to make it work properly for the consumer. In other words, it is a car that has been proven to be defective.
The Kentucky Lemon Law states that if a new vehicle undergoes four or more attempted repairs, or if it is being serviced for more than 30 days, within its first year or its first 12,000 miles of operation, then it is considered to be defective.
What rights do consumers have under the Kentucky Lemon Law?
Under Kentucky Lemon Law, if your vehicle is found to be defective, then you are eligible to receive either a repurchase of the vehicle or a comparable replacement vehicle. Additionally, the law states that the manufacturer must refund you the cost of any legal expenses, including whatever you pay to your lemon law attorney.
What is a “nonconformity,” according to the Kentucky Lemon Law?
A term you will hear used with regard to the lemon law is “nonconformity.” Specifically, the law says that manufacturers must repair “nonconformities” within a reasonable period of time, or else pay damages to the consumer.
The law states that a nonconformity is basically any failure to adhere to an “express warranty” of the vehicle in a way that significantly impedes the operation, safety, or value of the car.
What is a “reasonable number of attempts” under the Lemon Law?
Before they are forced to pay damages, manufacturers have a certain timeframe in which they can attempt to correct the problem. Under the lemon law, a “reasonable number of [repair] attempts” means four, or 30 total calendar days in the shop. Again, it is important to note that these four attempts or 30 calendar days must fall within the first 12 months of you owning the vehicle, or before the vehicle exceeds 12,000 miles.
Can a used car qualify as a lemon?
In Kentucky, a car that you purchase as used can qualify as a lemon if it was purchased and the problems occurred while the vehicle was under the manufacturer’s new car warranty, or if the vehicle was covered by a certified pre-owned (CPO) warranty.
If you buy a used car as-is, without any kind of warranty or with an extended warranty that you as the consumer purchase, then it will not qualify as a defective vehicle under the Kentucky Lemon Law or the Magnuson Moss Warranty Act.
What about the fees charged by your lemon law attorney?
One reason why consumers are reluctant to take legal action is that they fear the expense of hiring a lemon law attorney. The good news is that both federal and state-level lemon laws require the manufacturer to pay the fees charged by your lemon law attorney if you are a prevailing Plaintiff.
At Clagett & Barnett, our attorneys will provide a free review of your vehicle’s repair history, helping you to determine whether it qualifies as a defective vehicle under either state or federal lemon law. If your vehicle does qualify as a lemon, then we will help you get the compensation to which you are entitled, at no cost to you. In short, we will not bill you as you seek restitution following the purchase of a defective vehicle.
How to Pursue a Lemon Law Claim
If you believe that your vehicle qualifies for compensation under either state or federal lemon laws, what steps should you take?
First, ensure that your vehicle really does meet the criteria, as outlined above. We recommend starting with our questionnaire, and if your car is indeed eligible, reach out to a lemon law attorney from our firm for a free assessment.
Hire a Lemon Law Attorney in Elizabethtown, KY
Clagett & Barnett is pleased to serve consumers in and around Elizabethtown, KY. Our firm boasts more than 30 years of experience helping consumers navigate both federal and state lemon laws, and we are happy to take on your case at no expense to you.
Lemon laws exist as an important safety net for automotive consumers. These laws ensure that if you ever spend your hard-earned money on a vehicle that just does not work, you have a legal framework in which to pursue compensation. Doing so will typically require guidance from an experienced lemon law attorney, beginning with a review of your car’s repair history.
To begin that process, we welcome you to contact our Elizabethtown, KY law firm at your next opportunity. Reach out to Clagett & Barnett to learn more.