Can a Used Vehicle Be a Lemon in North Carolina?
The technical answer to this question is “no”. In North Carolina and most states only new vehicles can qualify for protection under lemon law statutes. North Carolina’s lemon law statute only covers “new motor vehicles failing to conform to express warranties”. The lemon law statute has a process for making a claim that the manufacturer should have to refund your money or replace your vehicle. Additionally the statute specifies a formula for monetary damages. But alas there are no such neatly packaged answers for the beleaguered owner of a used vehicle that has left a a sour taste in the mouth. So what if you have a used vehicle that has given you more grief than gratification?
The first thing you should do is contact a knowledgable and experienced vehicle lawyer. Since there is no lemon law statute in North Carolina the law that applies to used vehicle issues can involve a combination of contract law, sales and secured transactions, warranties, consumer protection, etc. There are few attorneys in North Carolina who actually focus their practices in the area of auto fraud and used vehicle issues. Be sure you have someone who can provide you the proper analysis and options for your situation.
Perhaps taking a hint from their neighbor (New York) across the Hudson River, legislators in New Jersey are working on laws that would provide specific legal protection for purchasers and lessees of used vehicles. Maybe legislators in North Carolina will see the value of protecting consumers from used vehicle abuses and create legislation that will provide this protection. In the meantime—and it may be a while—-consumers are left to figure it out on their own. Use the below resources to your advantage and be a better consumer……..could save you a lot of time, money, and headaches.
BEFORE YOU BUY………Check that vehicle!
- Buying a Used Car (information from the Federal Trade Commission; includes link to information in Spanish)
- Tips for Buying a Used Vehicle
- How to Buy A Car (a wealth of information and resources on purchasing a vehicle; includes link to information in Spanish)
- Protect Yourself from Auto Fraud (Tips to keep you from being ripped off)
- Kelley Blue Book (provides info on prices and values for vehicles)
- National Automobile Dealers Association Guide a/k/a “The Blue Book” (provides info on prices and values for vehicles)
- Edmunds.com (provides info on prices and values for vehicles)
- CarFax (provides vehicle histories and reports)
- Autocheck (provides vehicle histories and reports)
- National Insurance Crime Bureau VIN Check (is your vehicle a flood, salvage, total loss, etc?)
- National Motor Vehicle Title Information System (national electronic database with vehicle history information)
AFTER YOU BUY………Know Your Rights!
- Your legal rights regarding your vehicle (Information on what to do in case of an accident, odometer fraud, failure to disclose vehicle damage, lemon law, used vehicle issues and tips for buying a used vehicle, guide to vehicle insurance coverage, and motor vehicle repair issues)
- Car Law: A to Z (Common terms and concepts associated with vehicles and vehicle law issues; a must read item and a great reference guide!)
- Legal claims and remedies regarding issues with your vehicle (summarizes potential legal claims, requirements, damages, and other aspects of the law as relate to vehicles)
- Car Law: Claims and Remedies (legal education paper)