Dear Consumer Ed:
I purchased a new vehicle (demo with about 1600 miles on it) in May of last year and have had trouble with the car idling correctly and with the transmission. After pulling a Carfax report on the vehicle, I saw that at about 400 miles prior to my purchasing it, the dealership did service work on the vehicle for the same issue that I am having now – rough idle. Is there any policy or law stating that repairs must be disclosed to the customer? I didn't pull a Carfax before purchasing the car, but what customer would think of that when they are supposedly buying new?
Consumer Ed says:
In Georgia, car dealers must disclose any damage to a new vehicle which the dealer knew about and which cost more than 5% of the manufacturer’s suggested retail price (MSRP) to repair. Because your “demo” vehicle, which may have been used for test drives or commuting by dealership employees, is considered a new vehicle, the dealer was obligated to disclose repair work if the repair costs met this threshold. If the service done to the car costs less than 5% of the MSRP, however, the dealership was not required to disclose the repairs you identified in the Carfax report.
Even if no disclosure was required, your vehicle’s mechanical problems may be covered by the Georgia Lemon Law. The Lemon Law protects new vehicles purchased, leased or registered in Georgia from certain defects or conditions that occur within the Lemon Law rights period, defined as the first 24 months or 24,000 miles of delivery of your vehicle, whichever comes first. In your case, for example, the 1600 miles that were on the car when you took ownership would not count towards the 24,000 miles. Your Lemon Law rights period would expire two years from the date of delivery (around May of 2017), or at 25,600 miles, whichever occurs first.
The Lemon Law doesn’t cover every issue, but it does cover serious safety defects, and defects or conditions that prevent the vehicle from conforming to the manufacturer’s warranty or that substantially impair the vehicle’s use, value, or safety.
A vehicle may be eligible for protection under the Lemon Law if it manifests a qualifying defect or condition and the dealer or manufacturer’s representative cannot repair it after a reasonable number of attempts, unless a serious safety defect is involved. Or, if a vehicle has been out of service for repairs for 30 days or more, it is considered to have met the reasonable number of attempts requirement. Note that both the defect and the repair attempts must occur within the Lemon Law rights period.
If the defect still has not been fixed after a reasonable number of repair attempts, the consumer must give the manufacturer a final opportunity to correct it. If that final repair attempt fails to resolve the problem, the consumer has the right to request that the manufacturer either repurchase or replace the vehicle.
For more information about how to proceed, call the Georgia Department of Law’s Consumer Protection Unit at 404-651-9397.
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