Lemon Laws in Pennsylvania
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Pennsylvania’s lemon law applies to new cars bought and leased in-state, though if you buy a car out-of-state but immediately register it in Pennsylvania, it will be eligible for lemon law coverage.
This law protects car buyers who have purchased a defective or malfunctioning vehicle. If a car can’t be repaired after a reasonable number of attempts, drivers in Pennsylvania may be entitled to a replacement or a full refund.
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For all you need to know about Pennsylvania’s lemon laws, keep reading!
What is a lemon law?
Lemon laws are designed to protect drivers who are dealing with a defective vehicle, which remains unfixed even after a manufacturer’s multiple attempts to repair it.
In such a case, most lemon laws mandate a driver be compensated by either a refund or a replacement car, usually of a similar make and model.
Drivers’ lemon law rights don’t last forever—most provide coverage for a certain amount of time after delivery, or a certain number of miles driven, whichever comes first.
Is there a lemon law in Pennsylvania?
Yes, Pennsylvania has a lemon law on the books, enacted in 2002.
Pennsylvania’s lemon law applies to new cars purchased and leased in the state. Pennsylvania’s lemon law does not apply to the following:
- Commercial vehicles
- Off-road vehicles
MORE: Types of insurance
Is my defect covered under the lemon law?
To be deemed a lemon in Pennsylvania, a car’s recurring defect or malfunction must be objectively determined to significantly impair a car’s safety, use, or market value. Ultimately, this will be decided by an arbitrator.
As well, the nagging defect must occur and be documented within the first 12 months of ownership, or the first 12,000 miles driven, whichever comes first.
Also, one of the following two conditions must be met:
- At least three reasonable attempts by the manufacturer to fix the recurring defect
- The car is inoperable for 30 days or more due to the issue
In terms of what is not covered under Pennsylvania’s lemon law, here are the most common conditions:
- Any issue not affecting the car’s performance, safety, or value
- Any defect attributable to the owner’s misuse or negligence, not the manufacturer’s
- Any problems stemming from acts of God, vandalism, or collision
- Problems stemming from work or modifications on the vehicle done by the owner, or anyone other than an authorized dealer
Key Takeaway Persistent problems stemming from an accident or the owner’s misuse, neglect, or modifications are not covered under the Pennsylvania lemon law.
Are used cars covered under Pennsylvania’s lemon law?
Pennsylvania’s lemon law does not apply to used cars. However, in Pennsylvania used car owners can seek relief through the federal Magnuson-Moss Warranty Act if their car is a lemon.
Drivers can use Magnuson-Moss to hold the manufacturer liable and recover money from it if their used car has been deemed a lemon.
Under Magnuson-Moss, there is no mileage limitation in terms of using the Act to make a claim—unlike with new cars, where a claim must be made within the car’s first 12,000 miles driven. So long as the defect occurs within the term of the original warranty, it will be covered under this federal law.
Also, a consumer can recover money for their used lemon’s recurring problem and keep the car. With a new car, if a manufacturer buys back the lemon, they will pay you and take the car.
Key Takeaway Pennsylvania drivers with used cars can seek relief under the federal Magnuson-Moss Warranty Act, as used cars aren’t covered by Pennsylvania’s lemon law.
What about new cars?
Yes, Pennsylvania’s lemon law applies to new cars purchased and leased in the state.
New motorcycles, motorhomes, commercial vehicles, and off-road vehicles are not covered.
How to pursue your lemon law rights in Pennsylvania
If your car has an unresolved, recurring issue and the manufacturer has tried to fix it at least three times, you might want to pursue a lemon law claim in Pennsylvania.
Make sure that you have invoices and work orders from repairs handy because you will need them if you decide to take legal action.
Check your owner’s manual for your manufacturer’s arbitration program, where your claim will be adjudicated based on merit. We urge you to resolve any issues you have during the arbitration process, as arbitration is free and fast.
If you are unhappy with the result of the arbitration, you are entitled to pursue a civil suit against the manufacturer. If your claim is upheld, you’ll be entitled to the manufacturer’s payment of your legal costs.
Whether pursuing your claim through your manufacturer’s arbitration program or a civil suit, it is always advisable to consult an attorney, as the manufacturer will have plentiful legal counsel.
Keep in mind that pursuing a lemon law is a legal process, and therefore any small mistakes on your part could hurt your case down the line. That being said, it is possible to do everything right and still lose your case.
Lemon law tips
Here are some tips to keep in mind when thinking about pursuing a lemon law case in Pennsylvania:
- Always make sure to keep all receipts, invoices, and work orders for any repairs done on your car, especially for a recurring problem—these can bolster your case if pursuing a lemon law claim.
- If you modify your vehicle, or if the defect is a result of your abuse, neglect, or misuse of the car, your car won’t be eligible for protection under Pennsylvania’s lemon law.
- All repairs on your car should be made with manufacturers, dealerships, or repair facilities that have been authorized by the dealer.
- When taking your car in for the same issue multiple times, be sure to use the same language each time—say the battery “dies” each time it unexpectedly shuts down, as most lemon laws only apply to repairs needed to fix one problem repeatedly.
- If Pennsylvania’s lemon law does not apply in your case, you should look into the Federal Magnuson–Moss Warranty Act.
Finding cheap car insurance
Hopefully, you’ll never be saddled with a lemon. But even if you are, that car needs to be covered by car insurance as long as it’s on the road.
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