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Lemon Glossary

 


Arbitration   Arbitration is an informal process that consumers may use to obtain speedy resolution of a warranty dispute without having to go to court, and it is legally binding on the manufacturer only. At an arbitration hearing, the seller and buyer testify before an impartial arbitrator about the condition and repair history of the vehicle.

"As is" Selling   "As is" Selling: A car that is sold "as is" is one which is sold with no warranty, such that the dealer and/or seller has absolutely no obligation to make any repairs, regardless of the vehicle's condition. Protect yourself by performing a Free Vehicle Title Search before you purchase your next car.

"Comparable" Vehicle   The manufacturer is required to replace your lemon vehicle with one which is either identical or reasonably equivalent.

Collateral Charges   These are additional charges to a consumer that were incurred as a result of the acquisition of the vehicle. They usually include, but are not limited to, the following: charges for manufacturer-installed or agent-installed items; earned finance charges; use taxes; and title charges.

Express Warranty   A written warranty, so labeled, issued by the manufacturer of a new motor vehicle. The express warranty provides certain promises concerning the vehicle's condition, fitness for use and the manufacturer's obligations to repair, including any terms or conditions precedent to the enforcement of obligations under that warranty.

Incidental Charges   These are the reasonable costs incurred by the consumer as a result of the defect(s) about which the consumer is complaining. These charges usually include, but are not limited to, towing charges and the costs of obtaining alternative transportation, as the direct result of the said defect. Incidental charges usually do not include loss of use, loss of income, or personal injury claims.

Lemon Laws   Although different for each state, most Lemon Laws follow the same general theme: that a new car may be returned to the manufacturer for a refund or a replacement if warranty defects are not repaired within a reasonable number of attempts, or a reasonable number of days out of service, or cannot be repaired. Protect yourself by performing a Free Vehicle Title Search before you purchase your next car.

Letter of notice to manufacturer   A written statement which describes the motor vehicle, the defect, and all previous attempts to repair such defect(s), including identification of the person, firm, or corporation who made such attempts and time of such attempts. For example, you may want to include the following information: your name, address, and contact information; a description of the defect and all attempts to correct the defect; a description of the vehicle, including year, make, and model; the vehicle identification number, found on the registration; and a request that the manufacturer repair the defect.

Magnuson-Moss   One of the three federal and other state laws that govern car warranty problems. The Magnuson-Moss law is a federal law giving consumers substantial rights in dealing with manufacturers of lemon cars.

Manufacturer-Sponsored, Certified Arbitration   In order for a manufacturer-sponsored arbitration program to be certified in most states, it must meet the following requirements of the Federal Trade Commission (FTC) for mediation procedures: it must be free of charge; it must be non-binding to the consumer; its decisions must, in general, be given within 40 days after receipt of the buyer's complaint; and its decisions must be free from the influence of the manufacturer.

Mediation   Mediation is inexpensive and informal, and does not require that you hire a lawyer and go to court. It can be preferable to arbitration because it is more flexible - allowing for more creative resolutions. Because both parties must provide consent to the resolution, it can be harder to get manufacturers to agree to - and to give - a refund or a replacement vehicle. However, most states do not offer mediation programs as part of their offerings to help consumers in Lemon Law disputes. Protect yourself by performing a Free Vehicle Title Search before you purchase your next car.

Safety-Related Defect   This is an impairment which reduces the operator's ability to control the vehicle in normal operation or which creates a risk of fire, explosion, or other life-threatening malfunction. Defects to the steering or brake systems are examples of safety-related defects.

Secret Warranties   Secret warranties are a manufacturer strategy of paying for repairs after the automobile's written warranty has expired, but only to those consumers who are sufficiently aggressive about complaining. The secret warranty will cover certain component or system malfunctions or defects which have occurred in a widespread pattern.

Service Contracts (Extended Warranties)   Service contracts, extended warranties, and mechanical breakdown insurance are functionally equivalent to each other. The consumer pays an additional amount to the seller or a third party for protections against product defects beyond those that are covered by the express and implied warranties. Service contracts and extended warranties are technically not warranties, AND they do not extend the period of your Lemon Law rights.

Substantially Impair   This means to significantly impair the use of the vehicle or a component of the vehicle, or to reduce its resale value below the average resale value for comparable motor vehicles. Certainly defects that cause the vehicle not to start, not to stop, or impair one's ability to operate the vehicle would be substantial impairments. However, significant paint defects (requiring repainting the entire vehicle) or defects to key components, like the air conditioning system, might be considered substantial impairments as well. Whether a defect is a substantial impairment is a decision for the arbitrator, judge or jury in a contested case. Protect yourself by performing a Free Vehicle Title Search before you purchase your next car.

The Uniform Commercial Code (UCC)   In addition to your rights under your state Lemon Law, and the federal Magnuson Moss Warranty Act, the Uniform Commercial Code-- that is, general state warranty laws-- can be helpful in certain limited circumstances concerning your new vehicle in dealing with the manufacturer, dealer or in arbitration.

Unreasonable Number of Repair Attempts   Unreasonable Number of Repair Attempts: Preliminarily, most state laws count it as a "repair attempt" if you make the vehicle available to repair the defect, regardless of whether the dealer verified the defect or made an actual attempt to repair it. Safety related defects may require fewer repair attempts to be considered unreasonable. While some state laws delineate just how many safety-related repair attempts qualify the vehicle as a lemon, most do not. However, for example, just two unsuccessful repair attempts of a brake failure problem might qualify-- particularly if the dealer has demonstrated or admitted it does not know what is wrong. Otherwise, state Lemon Laws usually define "unreasonable" in terms of the number of unsuccessful repair attempts or days out of service. Protect yourself by performing a Free Vehicle Title Search before you purchase your next car.

VIN (Vehicle Identification Number)   You can find this number for your vehicle on your title. It is also included on each repair order.
To see a vehicle title search you need a VIN number. Click here for instructions on where to find it. If you have a VIN number then get your Free Vehicle Title Search now.
     

 


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