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Oregon Lemon Law

Every year, thousands of Oregonians trade in their old model cars for new ones. Most are happy with their new purchase, but for some, it's a "sour" experience from the minute they take the wheel. Those consumers, who discover all too soon that they have purchased an automobile with major defects, are protected by Oregon's "lemon law."

Passed by the 1983 Legislature, the Oregon Lemon Law gives purchasers of "lemons" the right to receive a new vehicle or a refund of the vehicle purchase price less a reasonable allowance for use.

If you are planning on or have recently purchased a new car, protect your investment by keeping copies of all repair bills, major and minor, just in case you end up with a "lemon" a few months later.

If you suspect you own a "lemon" and want to take advantage of your rights under the Oregon Lemon Law, there are four requirements that must be met:

1) The passenger motor vehicle must have been purchased IN OREGON on or after January 1, 1984. This law was amended in 1989 to include motorcycles.

2) The purchaser, whether the original owner or subsequent buyer, must have purchased the vehicle for person, family or household purposes during the express warranty period.

3) The vehicle must be a "lemon." It qualifies as a "lemon" if the manufacturer, its agents, or authorized dealers were unable to repair the same defect after four or more attempts or if the vehicle is out of service due to the defect for 30 or more business days.

The spirit of the law concerns a serious defect that substantially impairs the use and market value of the vehicle and that occurs within the first 12,000 miles or one year, whichever comes first.

You must also notify the manufacturer of the problem in writing so they have an opportunity to cure the defect.

4) If the manufacturer participates in a third party arbitration program and notifies you of the procedure, then you are obligated to try to solve your problem through the arbitration program to be eligible for a refund or a replacement vehicle. If you cannot reach a settlement in the arbitration, you may sue the manufacturer in court. The court has the authority to award three times the amount of any damages, not to exceed $50,000, if the court finds the manufacturer acted in bad faith.

If the four requirements are met, you are entitled to receive a new vehicle or a refund for the full purchase price including taxes and license and registration fees, less a reasonable allowance for the use of the vehicle. It is the manufacturer's choice whether you get a refund or a replacement vehicle.

It is important to note that the law is designed to deal with major defects that substantially impair the use and market value of the car. It does not cover problems that are the result of abuse, neglect or unauthorized modifications or alterations of the car by the consumer.

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