Lemon Law in South Carolina
For many years, car salesmen have gotten a bad rap. Some of that is obviously deserved. It’s hard to explain why buying a new car is such a time consuming process. The forms seem simple enough and yet most buyers can’t escape without spending at least 4 to 5 hours at the dealership. Does it have to be that complicated?
There was a time when auto dealerships were accustomed to the “as is” kind of business. In other words, the car you bought had to be accepted “as is.” If it broke down, that would be your problem. Warranty deals changed this attitude, but that doesn’t mean a few lemons still don’t sneak through.
The South Carolina Lemon Laws have been on the books since 1989. You can look up the legalese under the South Carolina State Statues Title 56, Chapter 28. Enforcement of Motor Vehicle Express Warranties. Translation: if you’re stuck with a lemon, you can get a refund.
South Carolina Lemon Law Conditions
To be classified as an official lemon under the South Carolina Lemon Laws, the motor vehicle needs to be a new purchase. This law defines a motor vehicle as any passenger car, van or truck. That vehicle also needs to have a serious defect that prohibits the use of the car or greatly decreases its Kelly Blue Book value.
The kind of defect covered under this statue has to be a manufactured one. In other words, if you drove the car into a ditch or ran it without water in the radiator, those repairs would come out of your pocket. There is also a statute of limitations with regard to when you can apply for a lemon law refund. The defect with your the car needs to have occurred within the first year of ownership or the first 12,000 miles of use; whichever comes first.
South Carolina Lemon Law Remedies
If something breaks down on your car that is the manufacturer’s fault then you first need to officially notify that car maker and give them the opportunity to make the fix. This should be at no cost to you and within a reasonable amount of time. In terms of this law, a “reasonable amount of time” is defined as at least three tries at making the fix.
If your car has been in and out of the shop for at least 30 days you could qualify for the refund. Keep in mind, that those thirty days don’t necessarily all have to be in a row, but they can add up over the course of several weeks.
When it has been determined that a fix can’t be made, congratulations: you have an official lemon. At that point, it becomes the manufacturer’s choice whether to provide you with a replacement vehicle or offer a refund and cancel the contract. If a refund is the choice, then the automaker can deduct an appropriate amount for your use of the car during the time you could actually drive it. That refund is obligated to include any additional taxes or registration fees.
Lemon Law Arbitration
In South Carolina, before you can get a refund or a new car you’ll have to go through an informal dispute settlement. This is set up to make sure both sides have complied with the law. You’ll have to prove you made all your proper notifications to the automaker and they’ll have to prove that they took all measures to attempt a fix.
The final ruling of this mediation will determine what you’ll be entitled to. If the ruling occurs and you’re not satisfied, then you can file a civil suit to seek additional remedies.