Lemon Laws in Alabama
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Alabama’s lemon law applies to any new or previously untitled self-propelled vehicles that are intended for use primarily on public highways. The law covers the first 12,000 miles or the first year under warranty, whichever comes first.
To be considered a lemon in Alabama, a vehicle must have nonconformities—that is, conditions that impair its safety, use, or market value.
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What is a lemon law?
Lemon laws are federal and state laws that protect buyers who have purchased defective consumer goods, especially damaged vehicles. While lemon laws are different in each state, they’re all designed to help compensate buyers with cars that don’t meet basic quality and performance standards.
Is there a lemon law in Alabama?
Yes, Alabama’s lemon law applies to any new or previously untitled self-propelled vehicle that is intended for use and operation primarily on public highways. The law covers the first year or the first 12,000 miles, whichever comes first.
The lemon law in Alabama does not cover motor homes or any vehicle that has a manufacturer’s gross vehicle weight rating of 10,000 pounds or more.
Key Takeaway Your car may be covered by Alabama’s lemon law if it is new and meets the specific weight and warranty requirements.
Is my defect covered under the lemon law?
Alabama’s lemon law covers nonconformities, which refers to any conditions that impair the safety, use, or market value of the vehicle.
Nonconformities occur during normal use of the vehicle. Any damage that is the result of abuse or misuse of the car, or that stems from an accident or collision, does not qualify for a lemon law claim.
Are used cars covered under the lemon law?
Yes, Alabama’s lemon law does cover used cars, but they have to meet the necessary conditions.
And the necessary conditions… kind of rule out most used cars. The used car would need to be under the first year of warranty or 12,000 miles, whichever comes first.
What about new cars?
Yes, Alabama’s lemon law covers new cars or previously untitled self-propelled vehicles that are intended for use on public highways. The law doesn’t apply to motorhomes or any vehicle that has a manufacturer’s gross vehicle weight rating of 10,000 pounds or more.
How to pursue your lemon law rights in Alabama
If you want to pursue your lemon law rights in Alabama, you’ll need to inform the manufacturer, take your car in for repairs, and maybe even file a lawsuit.
Report and repairs
For your claim to be valid, you must inform the manufacturer of any defects and drop the car off for repairs within the warranty’s length of coverage or the 12,000-mile limit.
The manufacturer is entitled to a reasonable number of attempts to repair the problem. In Alabama, this equals three repair attempts—one of which is the “final attempt.” At least one of those attempts must take place while the car is under warranty or within its first 12,000 miles.
The lemon law also applies if the vehicle cannot be used while it is undergoing repairs for a cumulative 30 calendar days.
If after several attempts the car defect persists, you must send a letter via certified mail to advise the manufacturer of the problem and the failed attempt to repair the vehicle. This will allow them one last chance to fix the car.
The manufacturer has one week to notify you of a reasonably accessible repair facility. After you drop the vehicle off at the authorized repair facility, the manufacturer has 14 calendar days to fix the defect.
Keep track of all of your receipts and invoices—you’ll need them if the repairs aren’t successful.
If the situation isn’t resolved, the next step is arbitration—an informal dispute settlement procedure. It’s always best to settle the issue with arbitration if you can, since going to court is a pricey and time-consuming option.
If you can’t reach a resolution with arbitration, you can file a claim for a refund or replacement of the vehicle under the lemon law—and a lawsuit, if you need to. Note that your claim must be made within three years of the initial delivery date of the vehicle.
You’ll want to hire a lawyer if you take this matter to court. A lemon law case is complex, and even a simple misstep can affect your chances of success.
Of course, even the brightest lawyer and the best case don’t guarantee you a win. The manufacturer will also have representation and it can go either way.
Key Takeaway If you’re having issues with your vehicle, advise the manufacturer so they can attempt to repair it. Keep all repair documentation as you’ll need it if you have to pursue the case in court.
Lemon law tips
Here are some tips to help you through the lemon law process:
- If you’ve made unauthorized modifications or damaged your car through neglect or misuse, it won’t be covered by Alabama’s lemon law
- Always take your car to an authorized manufacturer or dealership for repairs (and keep copies of all of your receipts and invoices)
- Each time you take your car to the shop, use the same wording to describe the problem—most lemon laws only apply to one problem that needs to be fixed repeatedly, so your words matter
- If Alabama’s lemon law doesn’t apply to your case, look into the federal Magnuson-Moss Warranty Act
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