First Steps If You Bought a Lemon Vehicle in Pennsylvania
If you are having problems with the vehicle that you bought recently, Pennsylvania lemon law might be able to help.
Pennsylvania, like other states, has lemon laws that were written to help people who are having substantial problems with a car, truck, minivan, or SUV that is still within 12 months or 12,000 miles of purchase. Lemon laws give vehicle owners a way to stand up to huge automakers to get their vehicle repaired or, if it cannot be repaired, get a replacement vehicle or refund.
Without lemon laws, consumers would have little power against an auto manufacturer who refused to repair a vehicle. Problem vehicle owners could end up paying for their own repairs rather than take on the risk and expense of bringing a lawsuit against an automaker. But with lemon laws, the manufacturer is legally forced to repair the vehicle or give the owner a refund or replacement AND pay the owner’s legal fees. And at Timothy Abeel & Associates, we typically close our cases within 30-90 days.
So if you think you have a lemon vehicle in Pennsylvania, what should you do?
1. Bring the Vehicle to Your Dealer
The first step is probably something you have done already without even thinking about lemon law. Your new vehicle had a problem, so you went back to the dealer to get it repaired. Maybe the steering was jerking or the electric windows jammed up. Perhaps the infotainment system is glitching or the battery drained in the first month. Whatever the problem, the common sense and legally required approach is to go back to your dealer and get it fixed. If you cannot safely drive the vehicle to the dealer, then you should tell the dealer in writing that the vehicle has a problem, and it is the dealer’s responsibility to pick up the vehicle or repair it where it is.
Your dealer should fix any substantial problems with the vehicle for free. Keep a copy of your repair order and any invoices (even if there is no charge) as they will provide details of the defect. Also, keep a record of how long the vehicle was out of service at the dealer or because of the defect.
If the dealer repairs your vehicle, you can leave happy and not think of lemon law again. But if the dealer cannot or will not repair the problem, or if the problem happens again, it is time to move on to the next step.
2. Bring the Vehicle to Your Dealer Again
In many cases, the owner will go back to the dealer because it is the obvious thing to do. But sometimes, an owner does not want to go back to the person who could not fix the problem the first time. Do not be tempted to repair the problem yourself, or with your handy neighbor, or even by bringing it to your trusted non-dealer mechanic. The law requires you to go to an authorized representative of the auto manufacturer which is usually your car dealership. If there are other dealers of the brand in your area, you could try those but never bring your new vehicle for repairs that are not authorized. You may lose your ability to bring a lemon law claim and may even void the warranty on your new vehicle.
Once again, keep a record of the repair order, invoice, and dates in the shop. At this point, the dealer is required under Pennsylvania law to notify the manufacturer about the defect. If the problem is still happening after a second visit to the dealer, you can move on to step 3.
3. You Guessed It…Bring the Vehicle to Your Dealer Again
In Pennsylvania, lemon laws give automakers 3 chances to repair a substantial problem before calling it a lemon. There are exceptions to this. If your vehicle is out of service for 30 days or more (either because it cannot be safely driven or because it is at the shop for repair), then you can start the lemon law claims process without bringing it to the dealer 3 separate times. Technically, you can even bring a claim without giving the manufacturer 3 repair attempts or 20 days as long as they have had a reasonable opportunity to repair the problem. But, practically, it is rarely worth arguing this.
If the problem with your vehicle is still not fixed, move on.
4. Call a Lemon Lawyer
After 3 repair attempts or 20 days without your new vehicle, you are no longer required in Pennsylvania to give the dealer any more chances to fix the problem. If you have not yet gotten legal advice, now is the time to call a lemon lawyer without delay. Timing is important because there are legal restrictions on when you can bring a lemon law claim but also because of the inconvenience of living without your vehicle. A lawyer can start by ensuring that the manufacturer gets you a comparable rental vehicle while your vehicle is out of service. Your lawyer will also then evaluate your claim and advise you on the best course of action for you. You may be required to try an informal dispute settlement procedure with your manufacturer if they have one, but, if you are not happy with the outcome, you can still bring a lemon law claim. Your lawyer can advise you more about this if it applies to you.
When a client comes to us, we guide them through these procedures and negotiate with the manufacturers to get them the remedy that they want. The majority of our cases are resolved quickly (typically 30-90 days) by settlement but we can and do pursue lemon law claims right into the courtroom when that is the right choice for our client. And when the case is closed, we send our bill to the manufacturer. We never send a bill to our client.
5. Keep Making Payments
It is crucial that you continue to make all of your financing or leasing payments at every step. We know that it hurts. We know that it isn’t fair. But all these payments are taken into account when you are awarded your refund amount or replacement vehicle, and we can assure you that we include it when we are negotiating your settlement with the automaker.
If you stop making payments, you could be in breach of your contract with your lender or lessor which puts you at risk of legal action. Trust us and make your payments. It will be worth it in the end.
When you have issues with the vehicle that you recently bought or leased in Pennsylvania, our experienced lemon law team at Timothy Abeel & Associates can help. Contact us today for a free case review or by calling 888-830-1474.