If you purchased a defective vehicle in Alabama, you may have rights under Alabama’s Lemon Law.
What is a Lemon Law?
A Lemon Law, or lemon car law, is designed to protect consumers who have purchased defective vehicles. Each state has some version of a Lemon Law, though which vehicles are covered by the law may vary from state to state.
What is the Lemon Law in Alabama?
The Lemon Law in Alabama covers a variety of vehicles meant for the primary purpose of being operated on public highways and roads. The Lemon Law covers personal vehicles — cars, trucks, and SUVs — but it does not cover motor homes or motor vehicles weighing 10,000 pounds or more.
The Alabama Lemon Law protects consumers who have unknowingly purchased defective vehicles. In order for a vehicle to qualify, the defect must significantly impair the vehicle’s use, value, or safety. The defect must also be present during ordinary use and cannot be due to abuse, neglect, modification, or alteration of the vehicle. Additionally, the defect cannot have been caused by a car accident or other damage. It must be an inherent defect.
In addition to defects that may make the vehicle unsafe, such as problems with the brakes, power steering, or engine, other defects that decrease the value of the vehicle may also qualify under Lemon Laws, including issues with the vehicle’s paint job.
In order to qualify under the Alabama Lemon Law, the defect must be reported within one year of the vehicle’s purchase, or before the first 12,000 miles of operation. If the issue arises after this time period has passed, the vehicle may no longer be covered.
What is the Alabama Lemon Law on Used Cars?
Although each state has some version of a Lemon Law, the laws generally do not apply to used vehicles. The purpose of a Lemon Law is to protect consumers who have purchased new vehicles that are inherently defective. As new cars should not have any issues, these are the vehicles most often covered by Lemon Laws. Used cars may have a variety of problems, due to age, deferred maintenance, or accidents. However, owners of used vehicles may be covered under Alabama Lemon Law in certain instances.
Alabama Lemon Law covers both the owners of new or untitled vehicles or anyone entitled to enforce a vehicle’s warranty. Although the law covers used cars, there are some stipulations. In order for a used car to qualify under the state’s Lemon Law, the defect must be reported within one year of the vehicle’s original delivery to a consumer, or before it hits 12,000 miles. As most used cars are sold after the original owner has owned them for over a year, or has driven them more than 12,000 miles, it is unlikely that the Lemon Law will apply to many used vehicles.
Which Vehicles Does the Lemon Law in Alabama Cover?
Alabama Lemon Law covers motor vehicles that are primarily used for personal, household, or family purposes, and are intended for operation on public highways. It does not cover motor homes, recreational vehicles, or vehicles with a weight rating of 10,000 or more pounds. Additionally, the law only applies to vehicles that have been purchased outright. People who opt to lease their vehicles may not be covered by the law.
How Does Alabama Lemon Law Buyback Work?
If you purchased a defective vehicle in Alabama, you may be entitled to a buyback or replacement. However, in order to qualify to have your vehicle reimbursed or replaced, there are some steps you must follow.
Consumers are required to allow the manufacturer or an authorized dealership to attempt to repair the defective vehicle before they can request a reimbursement or replacement. The number of times that manufacturers are allowed to attempt to repair the defect varies by state. In Alabama, they are given three attempts. Only if all three attempts have failed is the consumer entitled to a buyback.
However, if these attempts take the vehicle out of service for more than 30 days, the consumer may be entitled to ask for a buyback even if all three attempts have not been made.
How Does Alabama’s Lemon Law Compare to Other States’?
Though many states have lemon laws, not all of these programs are the same. The Center for Auto Safety ranked each state’s lemon laws as well as the District of Columbia. The ranking was based on several factors including state-run arbitration, penalties for violations, allowances for attorneys’ fees and more.
New Jersey ranked highest on the list with a total of 84 points. The state’s program was awarded high points with no deductions. Specifically, The Center for Auto Safety awarded points to New Jersey’s state-run arbitration and attorneys’ fees allowances.
In contrast, Alabama’s lemon law ranked 34th on the list. Alabama’s program was awarded no points in several categories for its fairly basic terms. In addition, the Alabama Lemon Law lacks extra safety protections or allowances for broad non-conformities.
The Center for Auto Safety also dinged Alabama for not having a state-run arbitration program. Arbitration programs run by the state are generally equipped with better training for personnel and avoid the bias of funding from the auto industry.
The Alabama Lemon Law also lost points for its lack of civil penalties to auto companies. Other states, such as Maryland, have lemon laws with a $10,000 damage award paid to consumers in situations where manufacturers act in bad faith. North Carolina also has attractive terms with mandatory treble damages.
What Can You Do if Your Vehicle is Not Covered?
Even if you believe that your vehicle is not covered under the Lemon Law in Alabama, you may still be able to speak with an experienced attorney about your specific case. A qualified Lemon Law attorney may be able to review the details of your vehicle’s defect and inform you of your legal rights.
How Can Alabama Lemon Law Lawyers Help?
In some cases, consumers have reported difficulties dealing with manufacturers or dealers when it comes to lemons. Dealers may drag their feet on making repairs, or manufacturers may be reluctant to offer reimbursement or replacement, even when they are supposed to. Having an experienced Lemon Law attorney on your side may make navigating this process easier, and may persuade manufacturers to provide you with compensation for your defective vehicle.
Join a Free Lemon Law Defective Vehicle Investigation
You may qualify for this Lemon Law investigation under the following circumstances:
- You purchased your vehicle new;
- Your purchased your vehicle in 2018-2020;
- Your vehicle is still under warranty;
- You have taken your vehicle in for repair several times; and
- It is still having the same problem.
(Note: Residents of North Carolina do not qualify for this investigation.)
See if you qualify by filling out the form on this page for a case evaluation by experienced Lemon Law lawyers or call (877) 289-0615.
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