Lemon Laws in South Carolina

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South Carolina’s lemon laws apply to newly purchased or leased cars sold and registered in the state. The lemon law also covers vehicles designed and used for 10 or fewer people and includes special stipulations for trucks and other vehicles.
A car is considered a lemon in South Carolina if it has a nonconformity—a defect that impacts the use, safety, or market value of the vehicle. If the nonconformity comes up within the first 12 months of the warranty or within the first 12,000 miles (whichever comes first), the vehicle may be covered under the lemon law.
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Read on to learn more about lemon laws in South Carolina.
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What is a lemon law?

Lemon laws are federal and state laws that protect consumers who have bought defective items, especially vehicles. While lemon laws vary from state to state, they all help compensate buyers of vehicles that don’t meet basic quality and performance standards.

Is there a lemon law in South Carolina?

Yes, South Carolina’s lemon laws apply to newly purchased or leased cars sold and registered in the state, as well as other vehicles designed and used for 10 or fewer passengers.
South Carolina’s lemon law covers trucks with an empty weight of 9,000 pounds or less and a gross weight of 11,000 pounds or less.
Motorcycles are covered, too. The lemon law applies to two-wheel and three-wheel motorcycles, but it doesn’t cover motor-driven cycles, the living portion of recreational vehicles, or off-road vehicles.
Key Takeaway Newly purchased or leased cars, trucks, and motorcycles in South Carolina that meet the size requirements may be covered by the state’s lemon law.

Is my defect covered under the lemon law?

A car is considered a lemon in South Carolina if it has a nonconformity—that is, a defect that impacts the use, safety, or market value of the vehicle.
If the nonconformity arises within the first 12 months of the warranty or within the first 12,000 miles (whichever comes first), the vehicle may be protected under the lemon law.
If the issue stems from the neglect or misuse of the vehicle or unauthorized modifications to the vehicle on the part of the consumer, it will not be covered under the lemon law.
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Are used cars covered under the lemon law?

No, South Carolina’s lemon law only covers new vehicles.

What about new cars?

Yes, South Carolina protects consumers who purchase or lease a new car. The car must have been purchased and registered in South Carolina to qualify.

How to pursue your lemon law rights in South Carolina

If you’re looking to pursue your lemon law rights in South Carolina, you’ll need to inform the manufacturer, take your car in for repairs, and pursue legal action if necessary.

Requests and repairs

If a nonconformity arises within the first 12 months of the warranty or within the first 12,000 miles (whichever comes first), the vehicle may be protected under the lemon law. You’ll need to report the defect to the manufacturer within the required time frame, after which the manufacturer will have an opportunity to make repairs.
If the defect cannot be repaired after three attempts, or the car can’t be used due to repairs for a cumulative 30 days, the car is considered a lemon.
At this point, the car buyer needs to write to the manufacturer to give them one last chance to repair the car. The manufacturer will have 10 more business days to do this.
Be sure to keep all receipts and invoices during the repair process—you might need them if you need to file a lawsuit.

Resolution through arbitration

If the car can’t be repaired, you must try arbitration with the manufacturer. Resolving the dispute outside the court system is a good idea if you can swing it since it’s free and usually less time-consuming.
If arbitration doesn’t settle the issue, you can file a lawsuit. You’ll want to hire an attorney at this point, since lemon laws are complex and any mistakes throughout the process could harm your case.
Remember that the manufacturer will have legal counsel too, so a good lawyer and a strong case don’t guarantee that you will be successful in your lemon law claim.
Key Takeaway If you experience issues with your new vehicle, contact the manufacturer before taking it in for repairs. Keep copies of all documents so that you have a paper trail if you go to court.
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Lemon law tips

If you think you might have a lemon law case, keep the following in mind:
  • The lemon law does not cover your car if you’ve made any unauthorized modifications to it or if it was damaged due to your own neglect, abuse, or misuse
  • Make sure you take your car to an authorized manufacturer or dealership for repairs (and keep copies of all of your receipts and invoices)
  • Each time you’re in the shop, be sure to use the same language to describe the problem—most lemon laws only apply to one problem that needs to be fixed repeatedly, so your words are important
  • If South Carolina’s lemon law doesn’t apply to your case, look into the federal Magnuson-Moss Warranty Act

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