NC Lemon Law

Could the NC lemon law help you resolve your car issue? If you have purchased or leased a defective new automobile, understanding if the lemon law of North Carolina applies to you could be the first step toward receiving compensation. The term lemon law refers to vehicles that are defective or require numerous repairs.

The North Carolina lemon law has been put into place in order to protect consumers. Different states have different laws pertaining to if a car qualifies as a lemon. Below you’ll find a summary of the NC lemon law, what you should do if you think your car is a lemon, and lemon law resources.

New vs. Used Cars

One of the main things to consider as to whether North Carolina’s lemon law applies to your case is whether your vehicle is new vs. used. A majority of lemon law state statutes apply only to new cars. However, some states do have provisions under their used car lemon laws 

The issue is specifically linked to your vehicle’s warranty. New cars are sold with vehicle warranties that specify coverage for a specified number of miles or months. It is under the umbrella of this warranty that the lemon law generally applies. If your state does not have specified lemon laws for used cars and you purchased your used car with a warranty, federal lemon laws may apply.

Summary of the NC Lemon Law

The following are the key aspects of the North Carolina lemon law. The NC lemon law covers both new vehicle purchase and leases. In order for your car to qualify under the lemon law, your vehicle must meet these conditions:

• Be a motor vehicle sold or leased in North Carolina, under 10,000 lbs. GVW, excluding house trailers. The law does cover motorcycles.

• The vehicle must have had at least 4 repair attempts or more than 20 days out of service during any 12 month period.

• The coverage period is 2 years or 24,000 miles or express warranty whichever is greater.

If the above conditions apply to your situation and your purchased vehicle, under the North Carolina lemon law the manufacture or dealer is required to compensate:

• The full contract price including, but not limited to, charges for undercoating, dealer preparation and transportation, and installed options, plus the non-refundable portions of extended warranties and service contracts

• All collateral charges, including but not limited to, sales tax, license and registration fees, and similar government charges

• All finance charges incurred by the consumer after he first reports the nonconformity to the manufacturer, its agent, or its authorized dealer; and

• Any incidental damages and monetary consequential damages.

If you leased as opposed to purchase the vehicle, the NC lemon law requires manufacture or dealer to compensate:

• All sums previously paid by the consumer under the terms of the lease;

• All sums previously paid by the consumer in connection with entering into the lease agreement, including, but not limited to, any capitalized cost reduction, sales tax, license and registration fees, and similar government charges; and

• Any incidental and monetary consequential damages.

In the case of a refund, the leased vehicle shall be returned to the manufacturer and the consumer's written lease shall be terminated by the lessor without any penalty to the consumer.

What Should You Do If Your Car Is A Lemon?

First, if you want to possibly make a lemon law claim, you must have detailed documentation. Keep detailed records of all problems, repairs performed, and the amount of time your car is unavailable while repairs are being made.

Without detailed records, proving your car qualifies as a lemon will be a challenge. If you did not collect documents when problems first arose, ask the dealer for the repair records.

To help you organize your documentation, click on this link for a repair log: Lemon Law Repair Log 

Second, in order to potentially invoke the North Carolina lemon law, you must communicate with the dealer attempting to fix the vehicle that you feel your car qualifies. If the dealer is not complying, contact the manufacturer directly, detailing the problem. When contacting the manufacturer, specifically ask for their procedure for making a lemon law claim.

A final step you can take is to hire a lemon law attorney. The good news is that the lawyer fees are generally free to the consumer. If an attorney who specializes in the NC lemon law loses your case, they don’t get paid. If they win, the manufacturer pays the legal fees. Thus, if you do not feel like the dealer or manufacture has provided sufficient restitution, hiring a California lemon law attorney is definitely worth the effort.

NC Law Lemon Resources

What if your warranty has expired or there is some reason you feel you may not qualify under the lemon law statutes? If your situation does not fall into the realm of the North Carolina lemon law, there are other options.

Another option is the federal lemon law. This statute is called the Magnuson Moss Warranty Act. In general it falls under the breach of warranty (BOW) theory. Restitution under this act is different than under than North Carolina lemon law. Instead of reimbursement for the vehicle, restitution is the difference between the Kelly blue book value of the car in excellent conditions vs. good or poor condition.

If you are unsure as to if the NC law lemon applies to your situation, a lemon law attorney can be hired at no cost to you to determine if the federal lemon law applies to your case. If you have specific questions regarding the North Carolina lemon law, you can also contact the California Attorney General’s Office at the following address:

Attorney General’s Office
9001 Mail Service Center
Raleigh, NC 27699-9001
Telephone: (919) 716-6400
Fax: (919) 716-6750

You can also visit their website at: NC Attorney General's Office 

The Better Business Bureau also has a printable summary of the North Carolina Lemon Law: BBB Lemon Law State Statutes 

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