Purchasing a new car is always a fun and exciting process from picking out the color to driving it off the lot knowing it’s all yours! But what if, suddenly, your car starts having some frequent or unusual mechanical failures leaving you to wonder if you’ve gotten a lemon for a car? If purchasing a lemon has left you feeling sour, know that you have rights as described in the Arizona Lemon Law.
In Arizona, a “lemon” is described as a car that is seemingly perfectly fine at the time of purchase but has concealed problems or shoddy fixes and parts that lead to car troubles weeks or even days after purchase. While the Arizona Lemon Law is more beneficial to new car buyers with full protection, used cars are also covered under the law, with differing specifications.
You Must Qualify
In order to receive full protection as detailed under the lemon law, there are several qualifiers that must first be met, including:
- The mechanical issue must impair the use and value of the vehicle and cannot be minor. It must be a major component related to brakes, engine, or transmission or the vehicle shutting off randomly.
- A reasonable amount of time must be given for repair. Reasonable would be considered as four or more visits to the dealer for the same problem, over 30 days in the shop for repair—doesn’t have to be for the same problem or an unreasonable repair history.
- Mechanical failures must be within the first two years or 24,000 miles of ownership and filed within 6 months of the expiration.
What You’re Entitled To
Vehicle owners that have purchased a vehicle that does not measure up to the express warranty (express warranties are clearly expressed either verbally or in writing) are entitled to return their vehicle to the place of purchase within two years or 24,000 miles, whichever comes first. The seller must perform all necessary repairs to ensure the vehicle meets the details of the express warranty. Note: Title changes DO NOT affect the timeline. For example, if you purchase a new car at full price and then transfer the title to someone else, the new owner is eligible to file a complaint under the Arizona lemon law, if the vehicle does not meet the express warranties.
The Dealer Must Do Their Part
Arizona law requires that dealers must make a “reasonable number of attempts” to repair the vehicle properly. Reasonable is defined as up to four shop visits or a cumulative total of 30 days in the shop. If the dealer is unsuccessful in repairing the vehicle within the time allotted, the buyer is entitled to receive a replacement vehicle or a refund of the purchase price, less any fees for the time the driver was able to use the vehicle without problems from the manufacturer. The manufacturer is responsible for repurchasing the vehicle from the consumer or provide a replacement plus any attorney’s fees.
You’ll need to provide proof that your vehicle is a lemon. So, it’s very important that the buyer provides written notice of the defect prior (if a defect is a known issue, such as a recall for example) to requesting repairs as well as retain all copies of repair orders and other documentation. This is imperative as the dealer or vehicle manufacturer may argue that the customer did not provide notice within the timeline, did not operate the vehicle properly, or somehow contributed to the vehicle’s disrepair.
Used Cars vs. New Cars
In Arizona, used car buyers have less protection, according to the Arizona Lemon Law, because used cars are often known for having mechanical issues. Some of the issues may not even present themselves until it has changed ownership. Protection is provided for 15 days or 500 miles of travel, whichever comes first. If the car breaks down during this period, the buyer may need to pay up to $25 of the first two needed repairs. If the dealer fails to repair the vehicle after two attempts, the buyer is entitled to a refund of the purchase price.
Don’t Get Squeezed
While the AZ Lemon Law is in place to protect buyers, it’s best to avoid getting a lemon in the first place. Remember, laws are open to interpretation and repairs can be time-consuming and rather inconvenient. When purchasing a car, be sure you clearly understand any express warranty included with the purchase. When purchasing used cars, patronize only trusted and reputable auto dealerships. Also, keep in mind Lemon Law protection does not apply to used private purchases or vehicles sold at a public auction, or that have a declared weight over 10,000 pounds.