Few things are more frustrating than realizing you have a lemon vehicle on your hands. If your new car breaks down while driving, not only are you stuck on the side of the road, but you are facing a repair bill and days without a vehicle. It adds insult to injury when the car that broke down is a recent purchase.
Although it is a situation no one wants to deal with, buying a “lemon” does happen. Knowing what to do when your vehicle stops working may save you money in the long run, and it could save you from serious injuries.
My New Car Broke Down! What Next?
What should you do if your car breaks down in traffic? First things first, remain calm. Focus on keeping you and your passengers safe, getting the help you need, and assessing any damage. This is true regardless of how long you have driven the vehicle.
As soon as you notice something is off with your vehicle, pay close attention. Note how it drives, the sounds it makes, and any lights illuminated on your dashboard. You should also scan the area around you and make a plan in case you have to pull over.
If you are in a rural area or heavy traffic, it might be a good idea to stop and call for help now before your vehicle stops running, leaving you with a larger crisis on your hands.
Get to Safety
When you determine your car cannot keep driving, it is time to safely get it off the road. On a divided highway, you should pull off as far as possible, preferably on the right shoulder. There is generally more space to get away from the roadway on the right side of the road than the median.
If you can’t 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 car quickly to stay safe.
Once your vehicle is safely parked, you want to make sure other drivers can see you. Turn on your hazard lights (flashers) and use flares or traffic cones if you have them. Many people say you should raise the hood if your car breaks down. Even if you do not know what is going on under there, this is a great tip. It makes the vehicle much more visible to passing motorists.
Assess the Damage
If your car breaks down on the highway, you will want to make sure you can safely exit the vehicle before you get out. Some repairs, such as changing a tire or adding fuel, can be completed on the side of the road, but only if there is space to safely do so away from fast-paced traffic.
If you must leave your vehicle, you should carefully consider whether walking for help is safer than waiting there and calling for assistance. It is safer to sit tight with your seat belt on and wait for help to arrive in many cases.
Call for Help
Many companies offer roadside assistance services for just this situation. A company like the American Automobile Association (AAA) can help with simple roadside repairs or arrange to have your vehicle towed to a mechanic or your home.
Regardless of who you call, you must continue to pay attention to your surroundings and do what is necessary to keep yourself and your passengers safe. 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.
For a free legal consultation, call 800-537-8185
Can Lemon Laws Really Help You Make Lemonade?
Everyone’s heard some version of the same story: a questionable 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.
What we do not know is the outcome. Was the law on her side? Did she report the lemon and receive a full refund?
What Exactly Is a Lemon?
In reality, lemon laws exist to help owners in very specific circumstances. The laws often do not provide the kind of protection people expect. Generally speaking, lemon laws usually only apply to new vehicles and only to the defects discovered in the first year or two after purchase.
The laws only apply if the car’s defect is “substantial,” meaning it affects the vehicle’s safety or value or notably impairs how it operates.
Even when lemon laws apply, it does not mean the buyer automatically gets a new car or a full refund.
Owners must notify the manufacturer of the defect and allow multiple opportunities for mechanics to repair it. Only if the defect cannot be repaired after reasonable attempts or the manufacturer refuses to repair it can an owner request a refund or a replacement vehicle.
Then, the owner will need to agree on the vehicle’s value. If the parties disagree on the value, they may go to arbitration to reach an agreement. This may be in the car’s purchase contract.
How do I Know Which Lemon Law Applies?
Every state has its lemon laws that apply in different situations and offer different solutions. Federal lemon laws apply when a manufacturer breaches its warranty by selling a car that does not perform as expected or requires an unreasonable number of repairs. The Magnuson-Moss Warranty Act and the Uniform Commercial Code protect consumers and their rights.
State Lemon Laws
For example, under Mississippi’s lemon law, you have one year from the date you buy a new car to discover the defect. While the law technically applies only to new vehicles, if you bought 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 required procedures
- Your car has been inoperable for 15 days
- Your vehicle cannot be repaired after three attempts
Similarly, in Alabama, the law only applies to new vehicles, but you have two years from the purchase date 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 does not have lemon laws for used cars, 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 suffered injuries from an accident after your lemon broke down, you can seek a free case evaluation with a personal injury attorney. You may be able to recover compensation and hold the car manufacturer, parts company, or seller legally responsible. You could receive monetary damages for your medical bills, lost wages, and more.
Most personal injury lawyers work based on contingency fees. You should not have to pay upfront fees to get representation to handle your lawsuit or insurance claim.
Speak with an Attorney from Morris Bart, LLC, for Free Today
An attorney from the Morris Bart law firm will evaluate your case today for free. You can learn more about your rights to replace your broken-down car, get money for your injuries, and more. Our initial consultations are free. We have offices across the Gulf South in Louisiana, Mississippi, Alabama, and Arkansas.
Call our team today at (800) 537-8185 for a complimentary consultation.
to find a Morris Bart office near you.