Purchasing a new car is an exciting experience: the scent of fresh leather, the sparkle of pristine paint, the smooth ride. But what happens when that excitement quickly fades due to unexpected hiccups in your brand-new vehicle? If you’ve recently bought a new car in Georgia and suspect it might be defective, here’s a guide to help you navigate this tricky situation. Defective cars frequently put their drivers in dangerous situations, so you may benefit from seeking advice from a skilled Atlanta car accident lawyer.
The Georgia Lemon Law
Georgia has a set of laws designed to protect consumers from ending up stuck with a ‘lemon,’ a term colloquially used to refer to a newly bought defective vehicle. This legislation, aptly named the Georgia Lemon Law, is your primary point of reference when dealing with a defective new car.
Identifying a Lemon
A defective car doesn’t automatically qualify as a lemon. For your vehicle to be considered under Georgia’s Lemon Law, it must meet the following:
- Time frame: The defect must emerge within the first two years from the purchase date or before the car hits 24,000 miles – whichever comes first.
- Type of defect: The defect must substantially impair the car’s use, safety, or value.
Steps to Take with a Suspected Lemon
- Notify the manufacturer: Before legal recourse, you need to give the manufacturer a chance to remedy the situation. Write a detailed report of the problem and send it to the manufacturer via certified mail.
- Allow repairs: The law mandates that the manufacturer has a reasonable number of attempts to repair the vehicle. In Georgia, this typically means three attempts for the same defect or one attempt if the defect could cause serious injury or death.
- Document everything: From repair invoices to correspondence with the manufacturer, ensure you keep a record. This documentation will be crucial if you decide to pursue legal action or require a refund or replacement.
Once you’ve firmly established that you have a lemon, there are several possible outcomes:
- Replacement: The manufacturer may offer a replacement vehicle of comparable value. This doesn’t mean a brand-new car, but it should be similar in terms of features, mileage, and overall worth.
- Refund: Alternatively, the manufacturer can refund the purchase price. This amount would subtract any value you received from the car before the defect became apparent.
- Arbitration: If both parties can’t reach an agreement, you might find yourself in arbitration – a process where a neutral third party evaluates the situation and makes a binding decision.
Protecting Yourself from Future Lemons
Prevention is, without a doubt, better than cure. While it’s impossible to predict every car’s performance, a few steps might reduce the chances of ending up with another lemon:
- Research: Before making a purchase, look up the car model’s reviews and ratings. If a specific defect is a common issue, it might pop up in these discussions.
- Test drive: It sounds basic, but many buyers skip this step. A test drive can offer early indicators of potential issues.
- Pre-purchase inspection: If you’re unsure, hire a trusted mechanic to inspect the car. They can identify any underlying problems that might escape the untrained eye.
When to Seek Legal Aid
If the problem persists after several repair attempts, the car remains in the shop for over 30 days, or the defect has led to a death or serious injury, get in touch with Monge and Associates. With offices in 32 locations across 19 different states including Georgia, Illinois and Kansas, we’re here to help.
If you’ve been sold a defective car, call now for a free consultation on (888) 477-0597.