The Philadelphia Personal Injury Law Blog

Go Suck on a Lemon: How to Use PA's Automobile Lemon Law

Whoever said to take the lemons in life and make lemonade obviously didn't have a lemon of a car, because there's nothing you can do with that type of lemon but dump money and time into it. Luckily, Pennsylvania has lemon laws to protect consumers.

The most well-known type of lemon law protects against cars that break down after being purchased brand new. Now the protections are expanding into other fields. Pennsylvania also has a "puppy lemon law," which is meant to stop breeders and pet shops from selling sick animals.

So how do you make these laws work for you?

Cars

The Pennsylvania automobile lemon law states that a car should not have a defect within the first 12,000 miles or 12 months of ownership. It requires that there be a warranty on any new car sold in the state that covers any repairs needed in that time/mile period.

If repairs are needed, you are responsible for getting your vehicle to the dealer for repairs. The manufacturer is only required to repair the defect if it substantially affects your use of the car, its value, or its safety.

On the other hand, if you've been dropping the hammer and spinning donuts day after day, and that caused damage, the manufacturer is not responsible. Sorry stunt drivers, if it's your fault, it's your dime.

Say these repairs don't solve the issue. In that case, you are able to get a replacement vehicle or a refund of the purchase price (minus a reasonable amount for your use). This determination will happen after an arbitration where evidence can be presented.

The arbitration is binding on the manufacturer, but not on the consumer. This means that the consumer has the ability to file a products liability claim or other lawsuit against the manufacturer for selling the lemon.

Dogs

The dog law has a much shorter time frame than for cars. To take advantage of this protection, the purchaser of a dog must take the animal to a veterinarian within 10 days of purchase.

If the vet finds that the dog is clinically ill, or that it died from injury sustained or illness contracted prior to purchase, you can return the dog, exchange the dog for an equally valued animal, or keep the dog and have the seller pay vet fees (but no more than the price of the dog).

You then have 30 days to discover whether the dog has a congenital or hereditary defect. If one is discovered, you have the same options as you would if there was an illness found in the first 10 days.

It is important to note that no matter what, you must take the dog to a vet within the first 10 days of ownership, or you waive any of your rights under the law.

These two laws can help protect you as a consumer. They make sure that car manufacturers and breeders can't just tell you to go suck a lemon when their products are nothing but a sour deal.

This post is part of FindLaw's Legal U series. We are working to help you learn what to do in your city to cope with some of the legal problems, questions, or issues that come up in daily life. Do you have a topic suggestion? Send us a tweet @FindLawConsumer with the hashtag #LegalU and come on back to learn more from future posts in this series.

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