The North Carolina Lemon Law is a comprehensive statute that protects consumers against lemons. A “lemon” is a new car that has either one major defect or a series of recurring problems that render the car unfixable. Lemon laws were enacted across various states in the United States to protect consumers and give them peace of mind when making an expensive car purchase.
Although many consumers don’t realize it, the North Carolina Lemon Law gives them the legal power to do something about a new car (purchased or leased) that doesn’t perform or conform to the terms of its written warranty or is unable to be repaired. In some cases, consumers may be entitled to a full refund. This means that consumers don’t need to put up with a defective vehicle, but can instead walk away from the situation as if the purchase never took place.
Similar to many other legal provisions, the NC Lemon Law includes specific stipulations that can be confusing and complex to understand. This article provides an overview of what the NC Lemon Law is, and the requirements to qualify for the protection it provides. Moreover, this article identifies the remedies made available under the statute and explains how to file a claim under the law. Ultimately, the goal of this piece is to inform you and other consumers of the protections afforded to you under the IL Lemon Laws, potentially saving you a significant amount of time and money.
North Carolina Lemon Law Definition of a Lemon
The Lemon Laws in North Carolina define a lemon as a new car that has serious problems the render it inoperable. A lemon can also be a new car that’s value has been greatly diminished as the result or a serious problem, which the dealer or manufacturer is unable to fix within the designated timeframe.
Requirements to Qualify under the NC Lemon Law
Unlike other states’ lemon laws, the NC Lemon Laws are unique in that they are only applicable to new vehicles. The NC Lemon Law covers drivers whose brand-new vehicles suffer a nonconformity or substantial defect within the first 24 months or 24,000 miles, whichever comes first, that can’t be repaired after repeated attempts (between 1 or 3) by the manufacturer or an authorized dealership.
What is considered to be a substantial defect?
It’s important to note that not all defects or problems with a car will qualify under the NC Lemon Law. To be covered, a defect must be substantial. In other words, it must be a warranty-covered problem that affects the car’s use, value or safety. For example, a substantial defect could include faulty brakes or steering. A substantial defect would not include a loose radio knob or loose carpet mat. A substantial defect is not to be caused by abuse or any alteration you’ve made yourself to the car. Sometimes, the line between what is considered a minor defect and what is considered a substantial defect can be very fine, which is why it’s always a good idea to consult a legal professional to assist you with your case.
What are the reasonable repair requirements?
Under the NC Lemon Law, as with many other states’ laws, your dealer or car manufacturer must be allowed to make a “reasonable” amount of repair attempts to your vehicle before it is able to be considered a lemon. Here are the stipulations under the NC laws:
- One repair attempt: If your car’s defect creates a serious safety concern, such as faulty brakes, your dealer or car manufacturer may attempt to fix the issue. If the issue remains unfixed after one repair attempt, your car is considered a lemon.
- Three repair attempts: If your car’s defect is substantial but doesn’t present a serious safety risk, your dealer or car manufacturer may attempt to repair the vehicle four times. If the issue remains unfixed after four repair attempts, your car is considered a lemon.
- Length of car repair: If your car is in the shop for a period of 20 days in one calendar year to repair one or more substantial defects, it may be considered a lemon.
Remedies Under NC Lemon Laws
Provided that you notify your car’s manufacturer or the authorized dealer from which you purchased the car within the designated timeframe, the NC Lemon Law requires the manufacturer to repair any defect or problem covered under the vehicle’s warranty. Here are the full remedies:
- The full contract price including, but not limited to, charges for undercoating, dealer-preparation and installed options, plus the non-refundable portions of extended warranties and service contracts.
- All upfront charges, including but not limited to, sales tax, license and registration fees.
- All finance charges you incurred after you first reported the problem to the manufacturer, or authorized dealer.
- Any incidental damages, less a reasonable allowance for your use of the vehicle.
Under the law, the refund is reduced by a “reasonable allowance” for your use of the vehicle. The following formula is used to calculate the refund:
Amount to be Refunded = Purchase Price – (Number of miles driven by the consumer X Purchase Price)
What should you do if you become aware of a problem with your car?
If you become aware of a problem or defect with your vehicle, you should complete the following steps:
- Immediately report any defect or “condition” either directly to the manufacturer or to its authorized dealer. If the consumer reports the problem to the dealer, the law requires the dealer to forward written notice to the manufacturer within seven days.
- Keep careful records of all complaints and copies of all work orders, repair bills and correspondence.
- Follow the proper protocols for filing a lemon law claim in Illinois. It is recommended to hire a lawyer to fight your case for you. The statute allows a consumer to recover all attorney fees with their claim. Dealing with the lemon law yourself can be time consuming.
While it is possible to file an application yourself, most people are better off hiring a lawyer. A qualified attorney will handle all paperwork for you and cost you nothing. Additionally, a good law firm will handle all expenses for the case and receive compensation for them at the completion of the case.