Understanding Tennessee's Lemon Law

Tennessee's "Lemon Law" was put in place to protect buyers of new cars from being seriously injured or killed as a result of buying defective or substantially impaired motor vehicles. Any car that was sold or leased after Jan. 1, 1987, is considered a "lemon" if the manufacturer, its agent or an authorized dealer are unsuccessfully able to repair the vehicle after either three attempts or during 30 days of being under their purview.

A car that is deemed to be "substantially impaired" is one that is found to be either unreliable or unsafe to drive normally. Auto defects that fall into this category can be catastrophic including engine fire, roof crush, gas tank explosions, seat belt failure, among others. This classification only applies for the first year from when you take your new car into your possession or within the term of the warranty.

If you suspect you have a "lemon" on your hands, you should start by sending them a letter via certified mail. The manufacturer must respond within 10 days to attempt to repair your car. Should your car not be properly fixed within that timeframe, the issue can be escalated to an informal dispute or lawsuit, requiring either reimbursement of the vehicle or purchase price, attorneys' fees and other court-related costs.

In this type case, a lawsuit must particularly be filed by whichever date is the latest -- within a year of the car's original delivery date or within six months of the expiration date of its warranty. It also stands to mention that, in this case, an extended warranty is not considered to be applicable in this particular case.

If you suspect you have a lemon car on your hands, you should take great caution to go through the proper channels to get it repaired or replaced as required by Tennessee's Lemon Law. If you are either unsuccessful in those efforts or the car manufacturer is unwilling to cooperate, contacting a products liability attorney can help you understand your legal rights as it relates to pursuing legal action against the car's manufacturer.

Source: Tennessee Department of Commerce & Insurance, "Lemon Law," accessed Dec. 23, 2016

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