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Lemon Laws Vary and May Not Cover Your Used Car

A car that incessantly gives its owner problems is usually dubbed a “lemon.” There are many theories about how the term was coined, but regardless of its origin, buying a “lemon” certainly gives you a sour feeling.

Lemon laws protect buyers of cars that repeatedly fail to meet standards of quality and performance. There are an estimated 150,000 cars each year that are lemons. Each state has its own version of the lemon law and vary on what is covered. Iowa’s lemon law is one that is often misunderstood because it does not apply to all used vehicles.

To qualify as a “lemon” under the Iowa Lemon Law, for instance, a vehicle must be less than two years old, have less than 24,000 miles, and weigh less than 15,000 lbs. In addition, the vehicle must meet at least one or more of the following: it has been in the shop three or more times for the same problem and the problem still exists; it has been in the shop due to a defect likely to cause serious bodily injury or death and the problem has not been resolved; it has been out of service for any number of problems for 20 or more days (need not be consecutive), and the problem still exists. If your vehicle meets the above, under the Iowa Lemon Law, the manufacturer has one chance to fix the problem.

It is very important to keep records of your vehicle’s service and repair work, with a detailed description of the work performed. For warranty repairs, the repair shop is required to provide an itemized statement that includes the diagnosis made, the work performed on the vehicle, the date and odometer reading when the vehicle was brought in for repair and the date the work was completed.

Keep copies of this paperwork. Never leave the paperwork in your vehicle when you take it in for repair in case the paperwork disappears or gets altered. Submit this paperwork with a formal written complaint to the manufacturer. If the manufacturer fails to respond within 10 days, or the shop chosen by the manufacturer is unable to fix the problem, you can request that the manufacturer replace the vehicle or refund the purchase price. 

If your complaint remains unresolved, you may file a lawsuit against the manufacturer under the Lemon Law. The lawsuit must be filed within one year of whichever occurs first: the expiration of the manufacturer's warranty, the first 24,000 miles attributed to a consumer, or the first two years of ownership. You can find more details about Iowa’s Lemon Law here.

You should report any issues you have with your vehicle to your dealership and the auto manufacturer, so they are alerted to the problem. This gives them a chance to repair the defect. If they want to keep you as a loyal customer, a dealership will work with you and the manufacturer to help address the problem.

When in the market for a used car, stop by Carousel Preowned. CarouselPreowned serving Iowa City, Cedar Rapids, Davenport, North Liberty, Marion, and Coralville, IA, is proud to be an automotive leader in our community. We do our best to ensure your complete satisfaction every time you step into our car dealership. This is why we offer the widest selection of used and pre-owned cars, trucks, and SUVs and provide true ease of purchase in Iowa.