Can You Trade In a Lemon Car? 3 Factors to Understand

Whether you’re buying your very first car or looking to trade in a current one, shopping for good car deals is always a thrilling experience. No one expects to purchase a car that’s going to pack it in after the first 1000 miles — but purchasing a lemon car is, unfortunately, a common reality.

Sometimes the saying ”it’s too good to be true” applies when car shopping. If a car deal seems this way, it generally turns out that way. So, what’s left for you to do? Can you trade in a lemon car? What are your rights as a consumer?

Find out more in this blog.

What Happens When Your Car Turns Out to Be a Lemon?

There are very specific criteria that a car must meet in order to qualify as a lemon car. Some of the most common of these include:

  • A vehicle defect must reveal itself shortly after you purchased it
  • The defect cannot be repaired after several attempts by a certified car mechanic
  • It must be a used vehicle purchase. New vehicles don’t always qualify as they still fall under the manufacturer’s warranty

The one exception to this is when a manufacturer fails to adhere to the warranty or provide the necessary cover to fix the car. Then, you can contact a lemon law attorney and make a claim.

How Does Lemon Law Work?

Lemon law applies across all 50 states in the U.S. The purpose of this law is to protect consumers. However, the stipulations and criteria of lemon law differ from one state to the next. For example, the amount of time you have to make a claim varies between states, as well as the qualifying criteria of a lemon vehicle.

For those making a claim with a warranty, against a car manufacturer, there is the Magnuson-Moss Warranty Act which also protects consumers across the U.S. This is a federal version of lemon law.

How Long Is the Lemon Law in PA?

If you’re based in the state of Pennsylvania how long do you have to make a claim, according to local lemon laws? Let’s take a look at the basics:

  • You have to report a vehicle defect within the first 12 months of ownership, or within the first 12,000 miles (depending on which comes first)
  • The lemon law requires that you have made three repair attempts to correct the defect or condition of the vehicle
  • If you cannot use the vehicle for more than 30 days, because of the defects, this also qualifies the vehicle under the lemon law

Bear in mind that only the first defect report must fall within the 12-month/12,000-mile window. Any subsequent reports can occur after the first year of ownership.

The entire process of making a claim under the lemon law can take as little as 30 days. But if you encounter a manufacturer that refuses to replace the vehicle or make repairs, we recommend you contact a lawyer who can help you fight your case. This process might take a little longer — anywhere from one-10 months.

What Does a Dealership Do With a Lemon?

If you end up buying a lemon car from a dealer, what are they most likely to do with it? The truth is, some car dealerships might offer to buy your vehicle at a minimum trade-in value — no matter what condition it’s in. But often, this is all hype.

Sure, they’ll offer you the minimum trade-in for your lemon car, but they need to make up that shortfall some other way. This is why you’ll pay a largely marked-up fee for your new vehicle. Essentially, this markup covers that cost. This is why it’s so crucial that you read the fine print when making a trade-in deal. Or, contact an attorney for advice on lemon law.

Some other dealerships might also:

  • Refuse to repair the vehicle. Their reason might be that the issue is not serious enough. If the car has no written warranty they can easily refuse to repair the car
  • Offer to repair the vehicle. Luckily, this is the most common scenario for most consumers because car dealerships have their reputations on the line. In some cases, though, the dealer might not repair the car as thoroughly as you’d like — hence the need to return for repeat repairs
  • Offer to buy the vehicle back. If you’ve returned for repeat repairs or it’s just not worth repairing, the dealership might offer to re-purchase the car. The buy-back price varies greatly and depends on the number of repairs attempted by the dealer

Finally, a car dealership can also offer to fully replace a vehicle. Albeit a rather unpopular option. The reason for this varies, but most of the time it comes down to trading in a good car, for a lemon car — which is not a good deal (for the dealership). They might also fight you on the type of vehicle they replace your car with based on the buy-back value and the car inventory on hand.

At the end of the day, it’s so important to know your rights as a consumer when you’re thinking of trading in a lemon car. Not all dealerships offer a fair trade, even if they sold you a car in sub-par condition.

Can You Trade in a Lemon Car?

If you’re stuck in a situation where you find yourself asking: ”can you trade in a lemon car?”, the best thing for you to do is contact a local law firm that specializes in lemon law. Robinson Lemon Law Group is your go-to for all the must-know criteria on what to do if and when you purchase a lemon car.

The lemon law also funds your attorney’s fees, so there really is no reason not to contact our lawyers for all the advice you need. Get in touch with us today and we’ll have you back on the road in no time.

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