A huge fear for new and used car buyers is that their car will turn out to be a lemon, a car that no matter how much time and money you pour into repairing it, seems to always have a problem. In most states, only new cars are covered by the lemon laws. However, in a minority of states, used cars also have some forms of protection. Unfortunately, in Alabama the state's lemon law applies only to new cars.
However, there are several ways to avoid buying a lemon when you buy a used car. For starters, having an independent mechanic examine any car you’re serious about buying. It’ll be worth the small fee he or she will likely charge you. Also, get the car’s history report -- you often ask the dealership for this and get it free or you can purchase it for a small fee from Carfax.
The follow table provides an overview of the lemon laws in Alabama.
|Code Sections||Alabama Code Title 8: Commercial Law & Consumer Protection, Chapter 20A: Motor Vehicle Lemon Law Rights|
|Definition of Defects||A defect, by Alabama law, is considered to be a “nonconforming condition” or a condition of the car that doesn’t conform with any express warranty that the manufacturer made to the consumer that significantly impairs the use, value, or safety of the vehicle and arises from the ordinary use of the vehicle rather than abuse, neglect, or alteration (for example, adding aftermarket racing parts and street racing the vehicle will likely ruin any warranty) or any accident that occurred after the consumer got the vehicle.|
|Time Limit for Manufacturer Repair||If a new car doesn’t conform with any express warranty and the consumer delivers it to the manufacture or agent, they are obligated to repair it. As long as the consumer gave the manufacturer or dealer notice of the problem within the first year from delivery of the car or 12,000 miles, whichever comes first, then the repairs can occur within the first two years or 24,000 miles.
Reasonable attempts to correct the car’s condition during the first 24 months following the delivery of vehicle or 24,000 miles, whichever comes first, are presumed if:
Additionally, any action brought against a car manufacturer for breaking the lemon laws must be brought within three years of the original date of delivery. This time limit to sue is called a “statute of limitations.”
|Remedies||If the manufacturer, authorized dealer, or their agent can’t make the car conform with their express warranties (for example, that it had a working transmission or a certain number of air bags that don’t explode unless in a crash), then the consumer has a few options.
First option, the manufacturer can replace the lemon car with a comparable new car.
Alternatively, the consumer can accept a return of the car and a refund of the consumer’s full contract price and the non-refundable portions of extended warranties and services, all collateral charges, all finance charges incurred after the first reported of the problem, and any incidental damages, minus an allowance for the consumer's use of nonconforming vehicle (basically the time the car did work for the consumer).
If you’ve bought a car that turned out to be a piece of junk and the dealer isn’t working with you, you may need to consult an experienced Alabama lemon law attorney to assert your legal rights.
Note: State laws change all the time, therefore, you should conduct your own legal research or contact an attorney to verify the state laws you’re researching.
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