What are Tennessee's auto recall laws?

Tennessee has several laws in place that protect consumers against the dangers of auto defects.

A car that has a safety defect is a serious threat not only to its driver and passengers, but also to others on Tennessee roads. The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration estimates that since enacting the National Traffic and Motor Vehicle Safety Act in 1966, safety defects have prompted the recall of more than 390 million vehicles.

There are several state and federal laws that address vehicle recalls. Anyone in Tennessee who drives a car should know these laws.

General recalls

As part of the National Traffic and Motor Vehicle Safety Act, the NHTSA has the authority to issue a recall on vehicles in which a safety-related defect has been found, such as a defective ignition, faulty tires or improperly operating airbags. Manufacturers are also able to issue a recall on their own. When a recall happens, the person who owns or leases the car is entitled to cost-free repairs from the manufacturer, or a car replacement or refund.

Lara's Law

Effective Jan. 1, 2017, Lara's Law takes auto recall legislation a step further. The Tennessee law states that a dealership cannot sell a used car without running the vehicle through a recall database first. There are "stop-sale-stop-drive" recalls in place that require repairs to be made to vehicles before they can be safely sold or operated. If a dealer runs the car through the database and finds it is the subject of such a recall, it must ensure the repair has been made before selling it.

The law also addresses safety recall issues. Dealers who know cars are subject to these must either ensure the repair is made or ensure the consumer is aware of the issue.

Lemon law

Outside recalls, individual vehicles may contain defects. Every state across the country has its own lemon law, or a statute that addresses a car that has a substantial impairment. In Tennessee, a car is dubbed a lemon if it meets the following conditions:

  • It was sold or leased as new after Jan. 1, 1987.
  • It has a condition or defect that causes a serious impairment.
  • The impairment has not been repaired after three attempts with the manufacturer or the vehicle has been out of use for repairs for 30 days or more.

Someone who has a car dubbed a "lemon" may take it to the manufacturer, who must either refund the consumer's money or replace the vehicle. The manufacturer must be made aware of the issue in writing and given the opportunity to repair the defective condition within 10 days. Further, the law states that drivers may file a lawsuit against the manufacturer within six months of a warranty expiring or within a year from the date of the original delivery of the vehicle.

Auto defects are serious and claim the lives of many people across Tennessee. People who have questions about this issue should speak with a personal injury attorney.

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