Lisa Copeland, a pioneer in the field of automotive marketing and management for more than 25 years and Managing Partner of Fiat of Austin, the top Fiat retailer in North America since the brand’s return, debunks those myths regarding car buying and consumers’ rights:
Myth: You always have a three-day return period after you purchase a car.
Truth: There is no three-day period during which you can return your newly-purchased automobile to receive a refund. Some dealers have an internal offer for a three-day test drive or a seven-day return policy, but that is their internal program that is not mandated by the state. Be sure to get a copy of your dealer’s “return” policy. You might be surprised by all the loopholes involved.
Myth: You are always covered under the lemon law for any car you purchase.
Truth: The lemon law only applies to new cars, light trucks and recreational vehicles. It does not apply to used cars or motorcycles – a fact most people do not realize. The lemon law provides protection to purchasers of vehicles that spend an inordinate amount of time in the service department. It covers a car that has a defect that substantially impairs the use, value or safety of the vehicle and that can’t be repaired in at least four attempts, or a car that is out of service for a total of more than 30 business days.
Myth: You can make a lemon law claim on your car at any time.
Truth: The law only protects cars that are less than 12 months old or that have fewer than 12,000 miles. Also, the process must be started within 12 months from the date of purchase.
Myth: You can make a claim under the lemon law with the dealer where you purchased the car.
Truth: It is important to remember that the dealer did not build the car — the dealer simply is a distributor for the manufacturer. So, the law actually requires that the claim be made through the manufacturer. Some buyers, having started the process through the dealer, find out that they needed to be working through the manufacturer only after their window of time has expired. The best place to find information on how to start the process is in your owner’s manual.
Myth: A lemon law claim is handled like a regular lawsuit.
Truth: Claims under the lemon law are handled through what is known as a Third Party Dispute Resolution Program. The benefit to the car buyer is that the manufacturer can’t challenge the findings of the Resolution Program. Remedies available to the successful consumer generally include receipt of a replacement vehicle or the manufacturer buying back the car less the decreased value due to the miles actually driven.