The fact is that some cars roll off the assembly line full of defects. Some can be easily fixed, but others present consistent problems. If you bought a lemon, most U.S. jurisdictions have a lemon law of some type that may help you. The process is neither fast nor easy, and it will require extensive documentation for everything related to your vehicle. Though this can be frustrating, it's nothing like being stranded on the side of the road with a brand new car.

You'll likely cry lemon before your vehicle truly qualifies. A strange rattling, balky heater or malfunctioning CD player doesn't make a lemon.

On the other hand, brakes that don't work, a car that doesn't start in cold weather, or malfunctioning gears can mean you've got a lemon. If the car can't be fixed, you will likely qualify.

What Qualifies as a Lemon?
If your vehicle suffers any persistent defect that impairs its use, safety or value, you likely have a lemon. If the substantial defect can't be fixed in 4 attempts, you've got a lemon. A car that's been at a dealership for 30 days and still can't be fixed is also a lemon.

Attempt to Fix the Problem
The manufacturer must first be given the opportunity to repair the vehicle and it must still be under warranty to qualify under most states' lemon laws. You are still covered if you bought the vehicle from a private party, assuming the vehicle is still under warranty.

Check the Lemon Laws of Your State
Lemon laws, like California's lemon law, work differently in every state, so find out which rules apply. Make a note of how many times you've attempted to repair the problem, as each state has different requirements. Make sure to document every detail of the problem.

Most Cases are Successful
Some companies make the process an ordeal, but most will grant you a new car if necessary. Few lemon cases require legal assistance. A car maker wants you to buy your next car from them, so they're willing to negotiate for your happiness in most cases. Be firm and persistent for a satisfactory solution. You are the customer and deserve a good vehicle.