Suppose you buy or lease a brand-new car. With the keys in your hand, you’re ready to take on the world. Then, the car starts to break down unexpectedly. You wonder how that can happen to your vehicle fresh from the dealership. Unfortunately, in this case, you may be driving a lemon.
In order for a car to be deemed a “lemon” in South Carolina, it must meet the following conditions:
- The defects appear within the first twelve months or 12,000 miles of owning the vehicle – whichever comes first.
- These defects cause significant trouble and impact the car’s use, market value, or safety.
- The defects prohibit the dealership or manufacturer from repairing the car within a “reasonable” timeframe. In this case, a “reasonable” timeframe is defined as either three attempts to repair the same problem or loss of use of the car for thirty days while it is being repaired.
- The defects must not be caused by the owner’s abuse, neglect, or unauthorized alterations.
South Carolina Lemon Laws protect consumers who have leased or bought lemons and require the manufacturers to either repair, replace, or refund the vehicle. Whether or not the car is replaced or taken back and refunded is up to the manufacturer.
Does Lemon Law Apply to Used Cars in South Carolina?
South Carolina lemon laws only protect consumers who buy or lease new cars. If you buy a used car that later breaks down, you are not covered by the lemon laws. However, other state and federal laws protect used-car buyers, such as:
- The SC Unfair Trade Practices Act (SCUTPA)
- The federal Truth in Lending Act
- The federal Magnuson-Moss Warranty Act
How to File Lemon Law in South Carolina
If your vehicle meets all of the requirements to be considered a lemon, here’s what you should do:
- Notify the manufacturer of your problems with the car within the 12-month/12,000-mile period.
- If necessary, give the manufacturer a final written notice to repair or replace the car after multiple unsuccessful attempts to reach them. This would allow them ten extra business days to repair or replace the vehicle.
- Proceed with the manufacturer’s arbitration process. Arbitration is an informal procedure to help resolve disputes. This is faster and cheaper than going to court. A decision will usually be made within forty days and binding on the manufacturer.
- If you are unsatisfied with the decision, you can file a lawsuit. If you do go to court to force the manufacturer to replace the car or to take it back and refund your money, you may also be entitled to recover court costs, attorney’s fees, and any expenses incurred due to the car’s problems if you win.
We Protect the Rights of Drivers in South Carolina
Nobody plans to purchase a lemon, but it happens every day. If you are driving a lemon that meets the criteria outlined above, you are entitled to a replacement or refund by South Carolina law. However, you must act quickly. The attorneys at Grimes Teich Anderson will guide you through the process every step of the way and are ready to speak with you for free.
Contact us by submitting a form below or calling our office at 800-533-6845 for a free legal consultation today.