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Don't Be Stuck with a Lemon This Summer: Automobile Lemon Law Advice for Car Buyers

American Government Special Collections Reference Desk

Don't Be Stuck with a Lemon This Summer: Automobile Lemon Law Advice for Car Buyers

Paul Fleming
July 20, 2007

It's summer. The temperatures increase. The clothing diminishes. The checkbook comes out, itching to be used for a down payment on a new car.

Summer is one of the busiest car-buying seasons of the year, according to Consumer Advocate Craig Thor Kimmel, Managing Partner of the automobile lemon law firm of Kimmel & Silverman. Now is a terrific time to pick up some new wheels, but potential buyers should follow some important tips to avoid purchasing a faulty vehicle and having to hitchhike in the scorching heat.

"Although getting a new car can be exciting, it is something that should not be rushed," warns Kimmel. "There are certain automobile lemon law precautions consumers need to take to avoid buying the wrong car or paying more than they should."

First, to avoid needing to consult an automobile lemon law attorney like Kimmel, do your research. Make sure the type of car you are considering has a strong customer satisfaction rating, provides the features you need and want and is priced within your range. Consumer Reports isa terrific source of information, with detailed facts on almost every available vehicle, and Kelly Blue Book is great for pre-owned cars. Additionally, consult family, friends and neighbors, as well as Internet review sits like epinions.com. There is no better source of opinions than people who have actually owned the car.

Second, know the Manufacturer's Suggested Retail Price (MSRP). Unless a car is in high demand, dealers generally sell their vehicles lower than the MSRP, meaning there is almost always wiggle-room with the sticker price and the final price. Also, don't forget to shop around; call several authorized dealers to see if they can get a better offer for you. Identical cars are widely available from dealer to dealer: it's only the price that changes!

Third, it's very important to try it before you buy it. Automobile lemon laws are in place to protect buyers from cars that don't work, but make sure you put it through the works before you sign the papers and drive off. Test every feature, from the defroster to the stereo to the horn. Take the car for a quick test drive, and listen for unusual sounds and pay attention to how the car steers, accelerates, brakes and handles. If something doesn't seem right, make sure you ask about it, and don't accept promises to fix it after the sale. Tell the dealer you won't agree to anything until the vehicle is running at 100 percent. This is the one time you have total control over the dealer and salesperson. Keep that control and demand perfection before you sign, or you may be buying a metal headache down the road.

Fourth, never purchase a car without a manufacturer's warranty, whether the vehicle is new or used. Otherwise, getting your car fixed properly by qualified mechanics, with the maximum of expertise and the minimum of hassle, may be next to impossible. If the manufacturer of the car will issue a warranty, it must stand behind the work performed, which keeps you protected.

Finally, know your rights as a consumer. If you have purchased a new car or a car with an existing manufacturer's warranty and you have a reoccurring problem that they can't seem to fix, you do have legal rights. Automobile lemon laws exist to protect you, and best of all, legal help is completely free to consumers under State and Federal Laws, so don't be afraid to consult an attorney if needed.

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For more information on the Automotive Lemon Law and free legal representation, call 1-800-LEMON-LAW (1-800-536-6652) or visit http://www.lemonlaw.com .

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