Unless you’re Beyonce herself, nothing makes a person want to go lemonade more than realizing you’ve got a lemon vehicle on your hands. If your car broke down while driving not only are you stuck on the side of the road when you were probably already running late, but you’re facing a repair bill and days without a vehicle. It adds insult to injury when the car that broke down is one that you recently purchased.
Although it’s a situation no one wants to deal with, knowing what to do when your vehicle stops working won’t only save you money in the long run but it could save your life as well.
My Car Broke Down! What Next?
What should you do if your car breaks down? First things first, remain calm! Yes, it’s stressful but you need to stay focused on keeping you and your passengers safe and assessing the damage.
As soon as you notice something is off with your vehicle, pay attention to how it drives, the sounds it makes, and any signal lights on your dashboard. You should also take note of your location and make a plan in case you have to pull over. If you’re in a rural area it might be a good idea to call for help now before your vehicle stops running altogether.
Get to safety
When you’ve determined that your car can’t keep driving you need to safely get it off the road. On a divided highway you should pull off as far as possible to either shoulder. If you aren’t able to get your vehicle off the road you will need to decide if other drivers will be able to avoid you or if you need to leave your vehicle quickly in order to stay safe.
Once your vehicle is safely parked you want to make sure other drivers see you by turning on your flashers and using flares or traffic cones. Many people have heard that if your car breaks down you should raise the hood; even if you don’t know what’s going on under there this is a great tip because it makes the vehicle much more visible to passing motorists.
Assess the damage
If your car broke down on highway you will want to make sure you can safely exit the vehicle before you try to figure out what’s wrong. Some repairs like changing a tire or adding fuel can be completed on the side of the road. However, if you need to leave your vehicle you should carefully consider whether walking for help is safer than waiting there and calling for assistance.
Call for help
Many companies offer roadside assistance services that can really save the day when you’re dealing with a vehicle emergency. A company like AAA can help with simple roadside repairs or arrange to have your vehicle towed to a mechanic’s shop.
Regardless of who you call, make sure you continue to pay attention to your surroundings. If you are waiting for help to arrive, experts agree that remaining in your vehicle is the safest option as long as you are out of the flow of traffic.
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Can Lemon Laws really help you make lemonade?
Everyone’s heard the same story: a questionable used car salesman talked your cousin’s friend’s mom into buying a vehicle that broke down the day after the dealer’s 30 day warranty ended. But with the law on her side, she reported the lemon and got a full refund!
What exactly is a Lemon?
In reality, while Lemon Laws can help owners in certain circumstances, the laws often don’t provide the kind of protection people have come to expect. Generally speaking Lemon Laws usually only apply to new vehicles and only to defects discovered in the first year or two after the car is purchased. The laws will only come into play if the defect with the vehicle is “substantial,” meaning it affects the vehicle’s safety or value or notably impairs how it operates.
Even when Lemon Laws do apply, it doesn’t mean that the buyer automatically gets a new ride or a full refund. Owners must notify the manufacturer of the defect and allow multiple opportunities for it to be repaired. Only if the defect can’t be repaired after reasonable attempts or the manufacturer refuses to repair it can an owner request a refund or a replacement vehicle. If the parties disagree on the value they may be required to attend an arbitration.
Which Lemon Law applies?
Every state has its own Lemon Laws with different requirements. There are also federal Lemon Laws that apply when a manufacturer breaches its warranty by selling a car that doesn’t perform as expected or requires an unreasonable number of repairs.
For example, under Mississippi Lemon Law, you have one year from the date you purchase a new car to discover the defect. While the law technically applies only to new cars, if you purchased or leased a used vehicle that is less than 12 months old you may have a claim. However, you will only be entitled to a replacement vehicle or a refund if you follow the law’s procedures to prove that your car has been inoperable for over 15 days or it cannot be repaired after three attempts.
Similarly, in Alabama the law only applies to new vehicles but you have two years from the date of purchase to make a claim for a substantial defect. The procedure is similar to Lemon Laws in other states but in Alabama your vehicle has to be out of service for over 30 days, or unable to be repaired after three attempts, before you can seek a refund or replacement. Unfortunately, Alabama used car Lemon Laws don’t exist but you can ask for a pre-purchase inspection or negotiate a 30 day warranty if you are buying a used car.
Were you injured as a result of a vehicle that broke down?
If you’ve been injured in an accident that occurred because a vehicle broke down, contact us for a free case evaluation. We work on a contingency-fee basis. You may be eligible to file a claim for medical costs, emotional distress and further damages. Fill out our free case evaluation form to see if you are eligible for a claim. An experienced attorney at Morris Bart will assist you in the evaluation process. Initial consultations are free. We have office locations throughout Louisiana, Mississippi, Alabama, and Arkansas. Call us at 1-800-537-8185 today.