Buying a new car is a major investment, and most of us take a long time to make that decision. And after we compare prices, safety features, options, warranties and guarantees, we agree to pay a considerable amount of money for a vehicle we 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.”
If you can, you should take steps to make sure you don’t purchase a defective vehicle in the first place. There are a few things to remember during your test drive process. First, you should take your potential new car for an extended test drive. You’ll have to sign the car out, and commit to driving less than 50 miles. If you can, drive the car around your neighborhood, and to places that you normally go, like 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, you should 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 they can end up with lemons. If you find yourself in that situation, you should consider applying for the Lemon Law Program.
Before you apply, you need to figure out whether or not your car qualifies for the program. To be considered “new” and qualify for the program, your car needs to be either 2 years old or less, or have 24,000 miles or less on it. 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 is generally considered four (4), but may be fewer in cases with serious safety concerns.
Our application is available online at www.ct.gov/DCP/lemon. Once you fill the application out 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 that we need. If your car is eligible, we will contact both you and your dealer with next steps in the process, which will eventually mean attending an arbitration hearing. While you can use an attorney for this process, most consumers do not. 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.
Connecticut’s Lemon Law Program’s success has been growing quickly, and DCP has been working hard to make sure everyone has the tools they need to navigate it.
Last year, we processed 64 cases and returned $2,308,107.10 to consumers. That’s compared to 55 cases and $1,509,632.00 in 2016. The Department also has produced a manual for consumers that can be found on our website. It is available in Spanish and Polish, as well as English.
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.