It may have been an honest mistake on the part of the dealer, or it may have been a deliberate attempt to pass off damaged goods. Whatever the circumstances, you bought a car in Virginia that turns out to have been defective, and now you are wondering what to do next. At Madigan and Scott, we know how frustrating this situation can be.
If you bought a lemon, here are some ideas about the next steps you should take.
1. Be sure the vehicle qualifies as a lemon
Just because a new car has some mechanical difficulty, it does not necessarily mean it is a lemon. To qualify, the dealer must have made several repeated attempts to repair a dangerous or non-dangerous condition, or you must have had your vehicle in the shop an aggregate 30 days over the first 18 months since you took over the title.
You may think that the lemon law applies only to new vehicles. This is not necessarily true in Virginia. It is possible for the lemon law to apply to used vehicles as well, but only under certain circumstances.
2. Take action quickly
According to the office of the Virginia Attorney General, it is necessary to take action within the initial 18-month period following purchase. Once that time has elapsed, the lemon law no longer applies. Government agencies do not enforce lemon laws, so it is your responsibility as a consumer to take the necessary private action within the appropriate timeframe.
3. File a complaint
Alerting the Better Business Bureau, for example, of your problem with the dealer will not help your case, but may help other consumers avoid purchasing a lemon of their own from the same dealer. More info about Virginia's lemon law is available on our website.