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Is My Car Eligible for Lemon Law If It is Tuned or Modified?

Lemon law exists across the country to protect consumers in the situation they bought or leased a defective vehicle. On the surface, the law seems pretty straightforward: a manufacturer sells/leases you a defective vehicle, you get your money back. Unfortunately, it’s not quite that easy; many factors come into play. One of the biggest gray areas we want to address deals with modifications.

The early stages of the lemon law process are the most crucial. All too often, lemon law claims are invalidated by consumers taking the wrong action. Third-party tune-ups and modifications are common culprits. 

Keep in mind, the vast majority of affected consumers have never had a lemon before. Most game-changing mistakes are done due to a lack of knowledge of their state’s law. In this post, we want to discuss how (seemingly) simple tune-ups and modifications can impact your ability to earn compensation for your lemon.

What is Lemon Law?

The – known as lemon law – was enacted in 1975 to establish disclosure standards for written warranties. The law holds automakers responsible if they sell or lease a vehicle with manufacturer defects. Generally, consumers can seek compensation from the manufacturer if:

  • The vehicle is covered under the terms of the original warranty;
  • The vehicle has a substantial defect that impairs the safety, functionality, or value of the vehicle;
  • The manufacturer has been given a reasonable number of attempts to repair the defect;
  • The vehicle has been out of service for a certain number of days for repairs;
  • The defect was not caused by driver abuse.

Lemon law is nationwide, but the details of the law and lemon qualifications work differently in . Most states only allow consumers to seek justice for new vehicles. A select few states extend these benefits to use.

For instance, mandates that dealerships clearly display used car warranty terms on all vehicles for sale. Used vehicles are either sold with a dealer warranty – which typically lasts for 30 days or before 1,000 miles accrue on the odometer. Otherwise, the vehicle must be marked as being sold “as is” – meaning there is no warranty in place.

What Lemon Law DOES Cover

Regardless of the state, lemon law covers the significant components of a vehicle under the terms of the warranty. To reiterate, a defect must be substantial and impair the vehicle’s safety, functionality, or value. These terms usually cover:

  • Engines
  • Transmissions
  • Steering
  • Electrical systems
  • Brakes
  • Airbags
  • Seat belts
  • Doors
  • Windows
  • Drive train

This list is not exhaustive.

Most vehicles are sold with a bumper-to-bumper warranty. This means every component of a vehicle is covered.

Now, many people believe a faulty CD player or radio knob might not be substantial enough to warrant coverage. A good lemon law attorney will argue this defect impairs the vehicle’s value and will fight for fair compensation. 

What Lemon Law DOES NOT Cover

Lemon law coverage typically extends to the terms of the original warranty. This means that ONLY factory parts are covered. Any third-party aftermarket modifications will not be covered.

Now, the good news is that aftermarket parts may not directly void your warranty coverage. The manufacturer simply will not conduct repairs on someone else’s parts.

However, getting tune-ups done from a third-party service provider may cause issues with your coverage – depending on what they did. The most important thing to remember about the lemon law process is to ONLY get mechanical work done from a manufacturer-certified facility while it’s under warranty. This is especially true with defects.

One of the biggest mistakes you can make with a lemon is taking the vehicle to your trusted family mechanic while under warranty. Work done by the third party may not always void your warranty, but it can potentially invalidate a lemon law claim. If you pursue a claim, they will more than likely try to attribute fault to your mechanic.

In some cases, a manufacturer may not even work on a defect if it’s been tuned by a third party. 

As a general rule, the manufacturer is your mechanic while the vehicle is under warranty. All tune-ups and mechanical work should be handled by a manufacturer-certified facility. If you want aftermarket products installed, start by contacting the automaker to see if they will install the part. No matter what you want to do with the vehicle, always play it safe and ask how it will affect the warranty.

What’s the Next Step?

The lemon law process is extremely difficult for consumers without a specialized attorney. Even if the vehicle meets all the qualifications of a lemon, manufacturers have high-powered legal teams working around the clock to help them avoid responsibility. No matter what the circumstances are, partnering with a lemon law attorney is THE most important part of earning fair compensation.

Keep in mind, most lemon attorneys work on a . This means they make a percentage of the settlement AFTER the case is won. In other words, anyone can afford to hire a lemon attorney to earn justice after being sold a defective vehicle. Do yourself and favor and leave it to the pros.

 
Author Bio:

provides premier legal services. Our California lemon law lawyers aggressively and ethically force vehicle manufacturers to buy back defective and dangerous vehicles. Our team includes experienced trial lawyers with over 40 years of combined trial experience.

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