Lemon Law provides relief to persistent car problems

Lemon Law provides relief to persistent car problems

RICHMOND, VA (WWBT) - You poured $42,000 into a new vehicle, and now you think that pretty truck you bought last year could be a lemon. How do you find out for sure?

Keith Smith is asking questions after hitting gridlock with the dealership that sold him his truck. He says it hesitates like it's ready to cut off. General Motors says the truck performs as it should.

NBC12 talked with both sides in this impasse and then went to a third party to see whether Smith has any options.

Smith and others with a similar complaint can seek relief under Virginia's Lemon Law, but you must file your claim before the deadline. If the problem meets certain criteria, you may be entitled to get a refund or your vehicle replaced.

Smith will have had his 2015 Chevrolet Silverado a year at the end of this month and says he's been dealing with a hesitation problem since day two.

"I slow down just a little, but then I accelerate and I feel mean jerking, bad jerking. That's what they say is normal," said Smith.

Smith says he thought the hesitation would disappear. When it didn't, he got everybody involved looking for a fix, from Rick Hendrick Chevrolet to General Motors.

Smith says it's been in the shop four different times.

"They found 112 misfires on one cylinder," said Smith. "They took the spark plug out, wiped it off and put it back in. Test drove the truck and said it was running fine."

The general manager at the local Rick Hendrick dealership says, "It's not abnormal for an engine to misfire. We can't replace things that are not broken."

The manufacturer gave a similar response that says in part: "Smith's preferences are slightly different from how the throttle response was designed to function. While this is annoying, there's nothing we can fix as the truck is performing as it should."

The co-author of Virginia's Lemon Law talks about how to know if you're entitled to consumer protections.

"If it's a significant problem that effects the value or the use or the safety of the vehicle, and he's given them a reasonable number of repair attempts which is three or more, and it's still not fixed and he's written a letter or they've inspected it, he's entitled to all of his money back," said Attorney John Gayle of The Consumer Law Group, P.C.

Gayle says the consumer is not required to figure out what the problem is. He says it's a common tactic manufacturers use.

"They're just hoping that he'll go away and miss his deadline. He has 18 months from the date of purchase to file a lawsuit," said Gayle.

Meantime, Smith says he loves his truck, but he just wants them to fix it.

"I just hope nobody runs into the back of me while I'm trying to accelerate. I'm trying, but it just won't go," said Smith.

If you believe your vehicle is a lemon, contact the Attorney General's Consumer Protection Hotline: 800-552-9963  or 804 786-2042. Your claim must be filed within 18 months after the date you first received your vehicle.

Smith knows the criteria now and says he's considering making a claim.

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