Lemon Aid, Cars and Inspections - A Consumer Protection Guide to Buying a Car

Consumer Protection Can I have some lemonade with that defective car please?

The Massachusetts "Lemon Aid Law," General Law chapter 90 section 7N, requires a dealership to provide a full refund for a car if the car fails an inspection within seven days from the date of purchase. Unfortunately, many consumers are unaware of this law and dealerships, despite their legal duty to disclose, will not go out of their way to inform their customers of their rights. The only caveat to this law is that the cost to repair the defects which caused the failed inspection must equal 10% of the purchase price of the car.

In order to preserve your rights under the law, you MUST do the following:

1. Have the car inspected immediately but no later than seven days after the date of purchase;
2. If the car failed inspection, seek an estimate from a certified repair shop. I recommend consumers seek an estimate of repair from a repair shop located at a dealership that sells the type of car you purchased. I.E. - bring your Subaru to a Subaru dealership for an estimate. This will increase the likelihood that the estimate will exceed 10% of the purchase price;
3. Notify the seller of the car in writing within fourteen days from the date of purchase, that you intend to void the contract of sale, return the car and obtain a full refund; and
4. Include the SIGNED, failed inspection report with the written notice.

An early warning that a dealership is trying to avoid the potential consequences of this law is if they try to sell you a car that has a valid inspection sticker attached to it. A dealer will often tell a consumer that there is no need to have the car inspected because it has a valid inspection sticker. THIS IS ILLEGAL! If a dealer sells you a car with a valid inspection sticker, they are engaging in unfair and deceptive trade practices and can be held liable for triple damages pursuant to Massachusetts' Consumer Protection Statute, General Law chapter 93A.

If your new car fails inspection within seven days from the date of purchase, a qualified consumer protection attorney will provide you with the necessary leverage to negotiate a refund under this statute. A qualified attorney will also be able to identify whether the car dealership has committed any unfair and deceptive trade practices that will expose them to triple damages. Attorney Cloutier of The Cloutier Law Firm, LLC has a proven record of success of obtaining settlements for clients in the greater Boston area who have been sold defective cars.

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