General Motors (GM), is an American automobile manufacturer that has been in the auto industry for more than 100 years. Their headquarters, one of the top manufacturers of vehicles and vehicle parts are located in Detroit, MI. Although they are one of the leading automobile vehicles, there are times when problems arise with their vehicles, sometimes it’s a problem that happens during manufacturing, and sometimes it’s a problem that happens after the vehicle has been delivered to the auto dealer. These vehicles are usually referred to as a “lemon”.

A vehicle that is considered a lemon is one that has a substantial defect that the manufacturer cannot fix within a reasonable amount of time. If you have bought a new GM, but something just doesn’t seem right, whether it’s the brakes, a bad odor, the steering, or even a bad paint job, your first questions may be “is your GM a lemon?” Here’s some information to help you determine if your GM is a lemon and how to remedy the situation.

What Qualifies a Vehicle as a Lemon?

In the majority of states, a lemon car is usually a new vehicle, but some state laws do cover used vehicles, that have a minimum of one manufacturing defect that has a significant impact on the function or safety of the vehicle. Although states differ on their laws specifically defining what a lemon car is, in general, it is a vehicle that has required multiple repairs and continues to fail in working properly. So, basically, in order to qualify as a lemon car under the majority of state laws, the vehicle must have substantial defects (one or more) that are covered by the warranty and have occurred within a specific period of time or mileage after you purchased the vehicle and it cannot be fixed after a reasonable number of attempts to repair it.

What is a Substantial Defect?

Substantial defects are problems that are not caused by your use of the vehicle after purchase, a problem that impairs the vehicle’s use, safety, or value. In the majority of states, the defect must be covered by warranty, for instance, faulty brakes or faulty steering is a substantial defect because the problem affects vehicle safety. However, something such as a faulty hinge on the glove compartment or a bad paint job doesn’t qualify as a substantial defect because it will not affect the safety or use of the vehicle as a whole. The exact definition of minor problems isn’t always clear and the definition varies from state to state. The most important thing outside of the problem being a substantial defect is that the defect itself must occur within a specific time period or within a specified amount of miles.

What to Do If You Bought a GM and You Think It’s a Lemon

If you bought a GM and you are noticing a problem that causes you to suspect that the vehicle is a lemon, in order to get a refund or replacement vehicle for the lemon vehicle, it is critical that you maintain all repair receipts and keep track of every problem and repair that occurs. If you suspect your vehicle is a lemon, it’s important to take the following steps:

  • Make note of the problem you are experiencing and review the warranty documents to see if the problem is covered under the warranty
  • Research the lemon laws in your state. A great place to learn more information about lemon laws is by contacting an experienced lemon law attorney
  • Report the problem to the dealership where you purchased the vehicle as well as to the manufacturer (GM)
  • Document everything relating to the problem, including all repairs that were done by the dealership and the manufacturer
  • Write a letter to the manufacturer, which will begin the buyback process if the repairs do not fix the problem
  • Contact an experienced lemon law attorney if the problem continues or if the buyback process is delayed by the dealership or General Motors

Beware of an Arbitration Clause

The majority of dealerships and manufacturers include an arbitration clause into the contract when you purchase a vehicle. The arbitration clause states that any dispute that you may have with the dealership or manufacturer must be settled through arbitration, which means the dispute must be settled through a third party, not in the courts. Before you sign any document for a vehicle, carefully review it and look for an arbitration clause, because you may have the option of getting out of it after a few months of ownership. However, if you choose to not get out of it, it is legally binding. If the situation does require you to go through arbitration because of a lemon vehicle, instead of a private arbitrator or the arbitration team for the manufacturer, try to have your state’s consumer protection agency as the third party. The role of the arbitrator or the arbitration panel is to analyze the situation and determine a solution that best suits both parties. If you aren’t satisfied with the ruling of the arbitrator, you can appeal their decision, but it does require hiring an attorney and providing a lot of documentation.

The first thing many people question is why they must report the problem to the dealership that sold them the vehicle. The reason is so that the dealership and the manufacturer are made aware of the problem, which gives an opportunity to repair the problem and it is proof that you have taken the appropriate steps to deal with the problem. This is extremely important if the problem continues and the manufacturer doesn’t honor the warranty or if the dealership doesn’t honor their service contract. It’s important to report the problem to the dealership and the manufacturer as soon as you become aware of the issue.

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