Buying a car is an act of trust. Not only are you putting your trust in the original car manufacturer, but you’re also trusting that the dealer is selling you a car that’s in good, safe-to-drive condition. When that trust is betrayed, it may not just be inconvenient—it could be fatal.
Federal statistics indicate that 2% of car accidents are caused by mechanical failure. That’s why it’s vital that people can hold unscrupulous dealers accountable for defrauding them. Without that right, it’s far more likely that car sellers will feel emboldened to sell unreliable and unsafe vehicles. Our Pennsylvania lemon law attorneys discuss exactly what your rights are under the lemon law below.
What Is a Lemon?
Legally speaking, a “lemon” is any car with a defect that meets any of the following conditions:
- Impairs its use, value or safety
- Requires more than three repair attempts to fix
- Puts the car out of service for 30 days or more
For the Lemon Law to apply, the vehicle must have been sold in Pennsylvania or at least immediately registered in Pennsylvania after purchase. It also must have been bought or leased brand-new, although you can report a lemon defect years after the date of purchase under certain conditions.
What You Can Get Under the Pennsylvania Lemon Law
In Pennsylvania, the Lemon Law entitles you to file a claim against a car dealer or manufacturer for selling you a defective car that was unusable, unsafe, or otherwise no longer valuable. Only vehicles used for personal, family, or household use apply; commercial or off-road vehicles are not protected under the Lemon Law.
Under the Lemon Law, you’re entitled to one of two options: the first option is a refund equal to the full replacement value of the vehicle, which includes your down payment, any loan payments, the value of a trade-in (if that’s how you bought the car), and coverage of the outstanding debt from the car loan. The second option is a replacement vehicle of equal or greater value from the dealer.
You can file a claim yourself, but it might be easier (and less risky) to file a claim with a lawyer’s counsel. That way you can maximize your possibility of successfully getting everything you’re entitled to.
How Long You Have to File a Lemon Law Claim
To trigger protection under the Lemon Law, your first repair needs to occur within the first 12 months or 12,000 miles of owning the car. That repair will be filed by your dealership. Then, if you need repair of the same defect two more times without a solution, you can file a claim under the Lemon Law. Additionally, if your car remains inoperable or in the shop for 30 cumulative days in the first year of ownership or first 12,000 miles, you can also file a Lemon Law claim.
Note that the subsequent repairs don’t have to take place within the 12-month window, just the first repair. If you suspect your new car has something wrong with it, make sure every repair comes with an invoice, and make sure you abide by the terms of the warranty. The dealership may challenge your Lemon Law claim on the grounds of neglect, abuse, or modification of the vehicle.
What Happens If My Lemon Gets Me in an Accident?
If you’re injured in a car accident as a result of the defect, then you’re facing more losses than just a car. That means your claim just became far more complex and high-stakes. In the event that you’re injured due to a defective vehicle, you’re entitled to file a personal injury claim against the manufacturer and dealer for your medical costs, lost wages, and more.
Since 1922, Handler, Henning & Rosenberg LLC has been representing consumers and motorists in injury cases against the toughest defendants in Pennsylvania. We’ve won tens of millions of dollars for our clients to help them get back on their feet. As Pennsylvania lemon law attorneys, we do far more than represent lemon law claims—we help our clients seek compensation for all of their losses, from the value of their totaled vehicles to long-term care costs for serious injuries.
Call (888) 498-3023 or use our short online form to get a free consultation today. Let’s discuss your legal options as soon as possible.