The purchase of a new car provides many emotional rewards, but when
the car does not turn out as expected, the relationship between the
buyer and the dealer can turn sour. Georgia provides protection for new
car buyers by offering recourse against the manufacturers and dealers of
defective cars (a.k.a. "lemons").
Your Rights Under the Law
During the "lemon law rights period," (which generally ends
one year after the date of delivery of the vehicle or after 12,000
miles) if a condition arises that substantially impairs the use, value,
or safety of the vehicle, then the dealer/manufacturer must correct, at
its own expense, the problem so that the cor conforms to any express
The manufacturer is allowed a "reasonable number" of
attempts to correct the problem. The law defines reasonable number of
attempts as follows:
- At least one repair attempt on a serious safety defect in the
braking or steering system during the "lemon law rights
- At least two repair attempts on any other serious safety defect
during the first 24 months or 24,000 miles with at least one repair
having occurred during the "lemon law rights period"
without being corrected.
- At least three repair attempts on any other nonconformity during
the first 24 months or 24,000 miles with at least one repair having
occurred during the "lemon law rights period" without
- During the first 24 months or 24,000 miles, the vehicle is out of
service for a total of 30 calendar days due to attempted repairs of
nonconformities with at least 15 days having occurred during the
"lemon law rights period."
NOTE: There are also special circumstances that can extend the
"lemon law rights period." Contact the base legal office to
see if they apply.
What Should You Do?
First, document every repair attempt and retain a copy of the
receipt. Include any diagnosis made, all work performed on the vehicle,
a listing of the parts/labor, the nature of the problem, the date and
the odometer reading when the vehicle was submitted for repairs. Also,
keep track of the number of days the car is not available for use
because of repairs.
What if the Car Can't Be Fixed?
If the dealer/manufacturer is unable to correct the problem, then the
dealer/manufacturer must replace the "lemon" with an identical
(or reasonably equivalent) vehicle or must refund the purchase price
with an offset assessed for use. If you elect the refund, it must
include all collateral charges paid.
How Do I Proceed?
If you believe the dealer/manufacturer has failed to correct the
problem after the required (reasonable) number of attempts, you should
notify the manufacturer by certified mail, return receipt requested. You
can find the address of the manufacturer in your owner's manual. The
manufacturer will then be allowed one last attempt within a two week
period to make the vehicle conform to the warranty. If that attempt
fails, then within 30 days of the consumer's notification, the
manufacturer must replace or repurchase the "lemon."
If you are unable to resolve the problem, you may
Office of Consumer Affairs
Attn: Warranty Rights Act
2 Martin Luther King, Jr. Drive
Atlanta, GA 30334
The Office of Consumer Affairs can advise you as to arbitration and
other remedies available under the law.