Buying a New Car

When buying a new car, the student should be aware of the laws pertaining specifically to the purchase or lease of a new car, such as the North Carolina Lemon Law.

The North Carolina Lemon Law

The North Carolina Lemon Law of 1987 sets out the rights of a consumer who has bought or leased a new car. This law defines when a car is a lemon and outlines the consumer’s rights to obtain a replacement or refund from the manufacturer of the lemon. The defects which make you think that your car is a lemon must occur within the manufacturer’s warranty period.

Under the lemon law, the manufacturer’s warranty must last at least twelve (12) months or twelve thousand (12,000) miles. Even if the warranty is for a longer period of time or mileage, your right to replacement or refund is limited to defects which occur no later than twenty-four (24) months or twenty-four thousand (24,000) miles following delivery. Defects occurring after this time but still under warranty may entitle you to repair only.

When Is The Car A Lemon?

If during the warranty period or mileage specified above, you have been unable to obtain an effective repair after a reasonable number of attempts, you may be entitled to obtain a replacement for your car or refund of its purchase price.

What Is A Reasonable Number Of Attempts?

The lemon law presumes that there has been a reasonable number of attempts if you have taken the car to the manufacturer or its authorized dealer at least four (4) or more times for the same defect without an effective repair, or if your car has been out of service for repair of a defect or series of defects for a cumulative total of twenty (20) or more business days during any twelve month period of the warranty. In the latter situation, you are required to have notified the manufacturer of the defects in writing (certified mail, return receipt requested) and to have given the manufacturer a ”reasonable” time but no more than fifteen (15) days to make the repairs.

Protecting Your Rights: Steps to Take

Read carefully and understand all warranties and your car maintenance obligations, and do everything required.

  • Upon noticing a defect, take your car to an authorized dealer immediately for repair. Continuing to drive a car when a defect is apparent can result in unnecessary damage and deprive you of your rights. When you take your car in for repair, provide the dealer with a detailed written description of the problem and keep a copy.
  • Get from the dealer a detailed repair invoice, including the number of days your car was in the shop and keep it in a safe place.
  • Keep a diary of defects noticed, the mileage at the time, and the number of times and dates your car was in the shop.
  • Keep a record of related expenses such as towing and rental car costs as well as receipts for these services.
  • If you have not been able to get an effective repair after at least two attempts, notify the manufacturer and lender in writing (certified mail, return receipt requested) that you want the defects repaired. Keep a copy of your letter and all correspondence received.

What Next?

If you have still been unable to get an effective repair, it is time to pursue your remedies. You may be required by the terms of the warranty to go to arbitration with the manufacturer before you can go to court. If you are required to go to arbitration and you are not satisfied with the result, you may then pursue your legal remedies. Consulting an attorney is recommended.

Verified June 2011