Lemon Laws in West Virginia
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West Virginia’s lemon laws apply to vehicles up to a year old or for the duration of their express warranty period—whichever is later.
In the world of cars, the word “lemon” doesn’t refer to citrus fruit. Instead, a lemon is a car with a major defect (also known as a nonconformity) that makes it unsafe, unusable, or diminishes its market value.
Figuring out you’ve bought a lemon can leave a sour taste in your mouth. Thankfully, the car insurance comparison and broker app Jerry has put together everything you need to know about lemon laws in West Virginia to make the claims process as easy as possible.
What is a lemon law?
A “lemon” is a car that has a significant defect—usually one that renders it unsafe to drive.
Lemon laws protect consumers who unknowingly purchase lemons and, under specific parameters, entitle them to compensation or replacement for their defective vehicle.
While the Federal Magnuson–Moss Warranty Act offers similar provisions nationwide, states have their own specific lemon laws that can help resolve such a situation.
Is there a lemon law in West Virginia?
Yes. West Virginia’s lemon law applies to cars, pickup trucks, vans, and any self-propelled chassis of motorhomes—as long as its purpose is for personal use.
The vehicle must have been purchased and registered in West Virginia to qualify for lemon law protection. It must also come with a warranty provided by a dealership.
Lemon laws apply for the first two years of ownership, the extent of the warranty period, or 24,000 miles of usage.
Is my defect covered under the lemon law?
That depends on the severity of the problem. If you believe the defect is severe enough for your car to be unsafe or undrivable, you must explain the issue to your manufacturer in writing. If they agree, then it’s covered.
West Virginia state laws compel manufacturers to make three “reasonable” attempts to fix a defect. If the issue is deemed life threatening, they have just one chance.
Here’s the breakdown:
- The same problem must have been attempted to be repaired at least three times
- For potentially life-threatening issues, only one repair attempt is necessary.
- If the vehicle is under repair for 30 calendar days within the first year of purchase, it is considered a lemon
- The law does not cover defects due to poor car management, such as negligence or unauthorized modifications
If you have purchased a lemon, you must notify the manufacturer within a year—though ideally sooner—so that they can undergo the process of trying to fix it.
Key Takeaway If your car has defects that substantially impact its usability or safety, it is considered a lemon—but you must notify your manufacturer about the problem within a year of purchase.
Are used cars covered under the lemon law?
Usually not—at least, there isn’t a special provision for used cars. If the used car is still covered by the manufacturer’s warranty and meets all other conditions required to be deemed a lemon, then it will be covered.
What about new cars?
New cars are covered under West Virginia’s lemon law, as long as they’re still within the company’s original warranty or less than a year old, whichever comes last.
How to pursue your lemon law rights in West Virginia
If you want to claim your lemon law rights in West Virginia, you must first identify major defects and request repairs. It’s recommended that you look into arbitration before filing an official claim.
Report and repair
If you think your vehicle may be a lemon, you must identify the defect and inform the manufacturer of the problem in writing.
After they receive written notification, the manufacturer is legally obligated to attempt to fix the problem. Under West Virginia law, they get three “reasonable attempts” to mend the car if the issue is not life threatening. If the problem is deemed to be life threatening, they only get one attempt.
All attempts have to be made on the same problem and within the first 12 months of ownership or the period of the warranty.
West Virginia doesn’t require you to pursue arbitration as some states do, but it’s recommended. Legally stipulated or not, negotiation with the manufacturer directly is a good idea.
Most manufacturers have processes in place for settling such matters out of court. It’s usually the best option because it’s free and much quicker than going to court.
Pursue legal action
If arbitration is unsuccessful or if your manufacturer refuses to negotiate, you may wish to proceed with a legal claim.
Lemon law claims are complex legal processes, so you’ll want to hire an attorney—ideally one who is experienced with lemon laws. If you win, the manufacturer will probably be required to cover your legal fees, anyway.
Even if you’re not expecting to claim in court you must make repairs and reports with great detail and as efficiently as possible. Slip ups won’t void your claim, but they might slow the process down or reduce your chances of winning.
The unfortunate reality is that sometimes it just won’t work out. Even if you have a strong case, you could still lose in court.
Key Takeaway Seeking arbitration before pursuing a court case is usually a cheaper and faster option.
Lemon law tips
Here are a few things to keep in mind about lemon laws in West Virginia:
- You’re not protected by lemon laws if you make unauthorized modifications to your car that lead to significant damages—and even if your modifications don’t cause damage, a manufacturer might claim that tweaks to the car led to the defect
- Repairs must be made with dealer-authorized manufacturers or dealerships so you can keep track of “reasonable attempts” and manufacturers have a fair chance to make repairs
- Lemon laws apply to the repeated attempt to fix a specific nonconformity, so keep your wording consistent each time you bring your car in for repair—changing it can affect your ability to make a claim
- If your claim is rejected or you feel you received insufficient compensation, check whether the federal Magnuson–Moss Warranty Act applies
Finding cheap car insurance
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