I bought a new car, and it has continuously given me trouble. Can I return it and get a new car?

Maybe. West Virginia has a law referred to as the Lemon Law. This law protects consumers by requiring sellers to comply with the automobile warranties they issue. The Magnuson-Moss Warranty Act is a federal law that addresses this issue as well. These laws apply to new vehicles only. They do not apply to used, or previously owned, vehicles. 

If you discover that your new car has a substantial defect soon after you buy it, you must notify the dealer. You are given a reasonable amount of time after you buy the car to realize that the defect is there. If the dealer does not fix that defect within a reasonable period, you are entitled to return the automobile and get a full refund. 

If you do not discover defects until later, you will have to rely on the protection of your warranty. The warranty must be in writing to be protected by the Lemon Law. In addition, the automobile dealer must provide you with written notice that you are protected by the Lemon Law when you buy the car. If the dealer refuses to honor a warranty, then the dealer may also be in violation of the West Virginia Unfair or Deceptive Acts or Practices Statute (UDAP). 

The Lemon Law extends warranties for at least one year after the car was delivered, regardless of the length of the warranty stated in the sales contract. When you discover a defect in your vehicle, you must notify the dealer of any defects and give the dealer the opportunity to repair them in order to benefit from the Lemon Law. The dealer has one chance to fix a defect that may result in substantial bodily injury or death. For any other defect, the dealer has three chances to repair it. Note, however, that this refers to the same defect. Several different, unrelated problems do not come under the “three repairs” rule. If the defect is not fixed after three attempts, you are entitled to a new car. In addition, if the car is under repair for a total of 30 days during the first year after purchase, then you may also request a new car. In either of these two instances, to get the new car you must provide written notice to the manufacturer that the car is defective and cannot be fixed. 

If the manufacturer does not replace or repair the car, then you may sue the manufacturer. You cannot sue the dealer. All costs associated with your inconvenience, as well as attorney fees, may be recovered. However, you must sue within one year of the date the warranty expired. 

In 2005, new legislation was enacted that permits cure offers to be made by merchants or sellers to consumers. A cure offer is a written offer of one or more things, such as money payments, made by a merchant and delivered by certified mail to a consumer claiming to have suffered a loss. In addition to creating a right to cure, the new legislation also requires the consumer to give notice of a violation prior to initiating a lawsuit. 

For more information, see: Magnuson-Moss Warranty Act, 15 U.S.C. §§ 2301-2312 (2014); 15 U.S.C. §§ 45-58 (2014); W. Va. Code § 46-2-606 (2014); W. Va. Code §§ 46A-6-101 to -109 (2014); W. Va. Code §§ 46A-6A-1 to -9 (2014); Adams v. Nissan Motor Corp., 182 W. Va. 234, 387 S.E.2d 288 (1989); Chrysler Credit Corp. v. Copley, 189 W.Va. 90, 428 S.E.2d 313 (1993); Bostic v. Mallard Coach Co., 185 W. Va. 294, 406 S.E.2d 725 (1991); West Virginia Attorney General’s Office, Consumer Protection Division: The Lemon Law, http://www.ago.wv.gov (last visited June 8, 2015).