AboveAverage

Lemon Law -- Alternative to Voluntary Reposession

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Sorry for the long post...

Reason I am writing this is because I have read during my time here folks asking how they can get rid of their car when circumstances for people change. Many people (like I did) think of lemon law when they buy an old clunker that stops working. A "lemon" can also be a new car or really any car you use to finance whose model year is about 5-6 years from the current year. I did not even think about getting rid of my current car until I experienced a potential accident.

Before I get into that, I'll give you a history of my vehicle. I financed a vehicle in January of this year after my credit had improved a bit to get something. Unfortunately, the only financing I could get approved for was Drive Financial. After about 6 months, I was able to get HSBC to finance my vehicle. Throughout this whole time, I was paying my monthly payment PLUS extra to get this loan down to an amount that I hoped will get me paid off by 2010. Within the first month of owning the vehicle, I had problems with my power steering and the steering column had to be replaced. I thought, "hey no problem, I'm covered under warranty" and they had the car fixed up the same day. Kept my paperwork and happilly kept driving. Then Friday came. As I was coming home from the post office after doing a CMRRR run to EX and TU, I heard a terrible knock from my steering column area. It was so bad, that my first thought was to go straight to the dealership. As I was attempting to turn around, I almost hit a neighbor's van (I did not, and thank God for good brakes). However...I could not turn left or right. One of my neighbors who was down the street saw what was going on and asked if I needed anything. I told him no, I had just finished calling roadside assistance and am going to go to the dealership. After about an hour, I got the tow and was on my way to the dealership service center. I explained what had happened. The service manager then told me I would not get the car back until possibly Monday and attempted to send me on my merry way. I told him, "Hold on, buck, I want a loaner as I am entitled to one under my warranty" He then proceeded to do so, but explained to me that I could get charged if it appeared that I did the damage myself. At that point I was furious because there was no pothole in the world that could have caused my steering to not work and this guy basically treated me like an idiot. I did not like the feeling. Had the jerk just did what was required and with no chicanery, I would have happily continued to want to keep the car. The car then was fixed not on Monday but the next day on Saturday. He asked for the loaner back (which wasn't even from the dealer, but from Enterprise). I told him that if I were to release the loaner to the dealer I want him to release me of any problems that occur between the dealers time with the car and Enterprise getting the car back and I want him to inspect it and get the milage and gas and to put that on the work order. Otherwise I would wait until Enterprise opened on Monday and pick up the car then. He assured me this would not be a problem.

In between all of this, I explained this to family and friends what had gone on and they all told me to look up Lemon Law and see if it applies to me. I did the google and saw ads for a couple of attorneys. I found pretty much the same thing. I would have needed to take my car for repair three times within 18000 miles or 2 years, whichever happens first. I had put 5000 miles on my car from 1/8 to 8/1. I'm not much of a heavy driver. A few road trips, but nothing everyday. (4 miles each way between my house and work). I contacted one of the lawyers and was contacted by a paralegal yesterday. She said that she wasn't sure if I had a case since I only had two occurances and I would need one more. Then she went by the information I had faxed (work orders) to the attorney and told me that the lawyer agreed with me that because I had a significant issue with the vehicle twice, I might not get a settlement in "pre-lit"(igation) and I'd have to go to trial but that could take 7-8 months. The fact that the lawyer would go to trial on contingency means I have a case, so I basically said fine, you can go ahead and represent me.

Why I'm pursing this? I am one of those people who needs to have things "immediately". Credit repair is one way to get used to patience though. The car payment really doesn't bother me, but then I started figuring out this formerly foreign concept called "net worth" .Today I'm worth negative 9k, and if I ever want to start becoming rich, I have to get rid of my debt. My debt is currently my car loan. That knowledge, coupled with the fact that I was pretty much doormatted by my dealership, I decided that I will fight back and hard. Plus, I already went through a repo, and there is no way in Hades I am going to go through another one. I plan on paying my payments as normal, without the $200 extra as I am willing to bet that this loan will be gone. If I lose that bet, than it would have cost me $200*X the amount of months I was putting it toward my principal. Whatever money ends up in my pocket will get me a certified used car that's paid for up front. Then put my "car payment" into savings. (Yeah Robert Nashville, I do like your playbook...you make sense to me :) ).

I'll let you folks know how this works out for me. But my credit is improving. By the time this is over, I would hopefully have scores that are over 700 and no more car note. Positive net worth is my goal as well as a sexy credit score. :)

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Many people (like I did) think of lemon law when they buy an old clunker that stops working. A "lemon" can also be a new car or really any car you use to finance whose model year is about 5-6 years from the current year.

Don't the so-called "lemon laws" apply only to new cars? Since it's a derivative of product liablility law, once the car changes hands, it's extremely difficult determine if the defect was present when the car was new or was the result of aftermarket tampering.

Did an attorney actually tell you the law applied to used vehicles?

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Don't the so-called "lemon laws" apply only to new cars? Since it's a derivative of product liablility law, once the car changes hands, it's extremely difficult determine if the defect was present when the car was new or was the result of aftermarket tampering.

Did an attorney actually tell you the law applied to used vehicles?

My '07 Grand Prix was considered new. It was old inventory that the dealership wanted to get rid of. So I would personally qualify for lemon law.

There are used cars lemon laws, but the lemon law we're talking about is much stronger than the ones for used. Plus, lemon laws are a state thing. Your state may have one, but it's weaker or stronger than another state. NJ ranks #2 in terms of lemon law strength. Still though, there are options for folks who may think dropping their car off at the dealer is such a good idea. I can still make my payments and I'm not in dire straits. I just hated the fact that I was made to feel like a tool. I really didn't think I would have an option for lemon law.

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