What is the Lemon Law?

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What is the Lemon Law?

By Catherine Blinder

Connecticut’s Lemon Law Program was one of the first in the country, beginning in 1984. In 2018, the Department of Consumer Protection (DCP) processed 81 cases; so far in 2019, we have processed 93 cases.

Even though there are many law firms advertising that they will help you through the process, it is not necessary, and most people who qualify do not hire an attorney.

Buying a new car is a major investment. And after you compare prices, safety features, options and warranties and guarantees, you agree to pay a considerable amount of money for a vehicle you hope will last years and years.

With so much to consider, it’s easy to accidentally miss something, and that can be incredibly frustrating, especially if you end up with a defective vehicle or a “lemon.”

To protect yourself, here are a few things you can do to make sure you don’t purchase a defective vehicle:

  • Take the car for an extended test drive. You’ll have to sign the car out, and commit to driving less than 50 miles. But if you can, drive the car around your neighborhood, and to places that you normally go, such as school, work or the grocery store, to see how well the car operates within your daily routine. If the car doesn’t work well on a test drive, it won’t get any better in the future.
  • Next, if you have made a decision about what type of car you would like, test drive a few of them. If one feels a little different than the others or operates in a questionable way, there’s a chance that it’s a lemon.

Unfortunately, even people who take every responsible step can end up with lemons. If you find yourself in that situation, you should consider applying for the CT Lemon Law Program.

Before you apply, make sure that your vehicle qualifies for the program:

  • The vehicle must be registered as “passenger,” combination” or “motorcycle” in the State of Connecticut; and,
  • The vehicle has had a defect, within the manufacturer’s limited warranty, during the first 2 years or 24,000 miles that could not be repaired after a reasonable number of repair attempts.

If your car fits those qualifications and has a defect that persists even after a reasonable number of repair attempts, you should apply. A reasonable number of repair attempts are generally considered four (4), but maybe fewer in cases with serious safety concerns.

Our application is available online at www.ct.gov/DCP/lemon. Once you complete the application and send it in, we will reply to you regarding your eligibility within five (5) business days. If your application is incomplete, we will send it back to you with a list of the additional information we need. If your car is eligible, we will contact both you and your dealer with the next steps in the process, which will eventually mean attending an arbitration hearing.

When preparing for an arbitration hearing, consumers should make sure they have all of the documentation associated with their car purchase experience and are able to discuss their attempts to repair the vehicle.

The success of Connecticut’s Lemon Law Program has been growing quickly, and DCP has been working hard to make sure everyone has the tools they need to navigate it.

The Department also has produced a manual for consumers that can be found on our website. It is in Spanish and Polish, as well as English.

We encourage consumers with questions to visit www.ct.gov/DCP/lemon, or to contact us by emailing dcp.lemonlaw@ct.gov or by calling 1 (800) 538-CARS (2277).

And remember, pass on consumer safety tips to your friends and family.

This article was written by Catherine Blinder, chief education and outreach officer of the Department of Consumer Protection of the State of Connecticut. To learn more about how the Department of Consumer Protection can help, visit us online at www.ct.gov/dcp.

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December 11, 2019

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