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NEWS | May 10, 2011

Making lemonade from a “lemon”

By 628th Air Base Wing Staff Judge Advocate

There will always be a debate on which is better; buying a vehicle new or used. One benefit of a new car is that it will usually come with a warranty that covers the cost of repairing vehicle deficiencies. But what happens when your dream car requires numerous trips to the dealership without the problem being corrected. Are you stuck with a "lemon"?

The state of South Carolina has legislation in place allowing lemon owners to be reimbursed or given a replacement vehicle. Several qualifying steps must be done prior to reimbursement or replacement and the defect in the new car cannot be the result of owner abuse, neglect or unauthorized modification of the vehicle.

In order to receive protection under South Carolina's lemon law, the owner must report the defect in the new car prior to the expiration of the warranty. The owner must then attempt to have the problem corrected. If the vehicle is not satisfactorily repaired after three attempts, the owner must provide the vehicle manufacturer with written notification of the need for repair. If the vehicle is out of service for more than 30 days (cumulative, not consecutive) the same law applies and notice should also be provided to the manufacturer. Upon receipt of this notice, the manufacturer then has 10 business days in which to notify the owner of a repair facility. Upon delivery of the vehicle to the repair facility, the manufacturer has 10 business days to fix the problem. If all attempts to correct the defect fail, the owner is entitled to a replacement vehicle or reimbursement of the full purchase price, minus a reasonable allowance for use of the vehicle. The vehicle manufacturer is allowed to decide on whether it will be replacement or reimbursement.

For more information on this topic, contact the Joint Base Legal Office at 963-5502 or the Legal Annex at 764-7642.