Thomas McCutcheon

Q: I purchased a 2011 Ford F150 pickup truck from a local used car dealer. The truck looked very nice and the questions that I asked about the truck were answered to my satisfaction and it only had 24,000 miles on it and seemed to be well taken care of. A little over a week after I bought it the transmission began to fail and it would cost about $4000 to fix or replace. The place where I bought the truck said they would see if they could help me find a transmission at wholesale and that’s all they were willing to do. I obviously bought a lemon and I think Alabama has a lemon law. Does it apply in this case? - Charles, Florence, AL

A: Unfortunately, you only get the warranty that you agree upon when you purchase a used vehicle unless it is still under the manufacturer’s original warranty. A car bought “as is” has no warranty.

Alabama does have a lemon law and it is found at Alabama Code §8-20A-2 but it only applies to new vehicles.

For the lemon law to apply the motor vehicle has to be out of service and in the care of the dealer for a cumulative total of 30 calendar days due to repair attempts. The dealer gets three repair attempts plus one additional attempt by the manufacturer to fix the car.

If, after reasonable attempts to fix the car have been made, either by repairing or correcting the condition of the motor vehicle which occurred within 24 months or 24,000 miles whichever first occurs, the manufacturer shall, at the option of the consumer, replace the motor vehicle with a comparable new motor vehicle or shall accept return of the vehicle from the consumer and refund the following: full contract price, sales tax, license and registration fees and all finance charges incurred by the consumer after he first reported the nonconformity.

When buying a used car, you do have the option of having a pre-purchase inspection by a reputable mechanic. You also have the opportunity to ask for a period of time in which you can return the car. You could also ask for a 30 day warranty.

I have dealt with cases years ago where people would buy commercially available warranties for used cars. The limited experience that I can share is that, at least for the ones I saw, they were completely useless. That’s not to say that there may be some commercially available warranty for used cars that may be reputable and give good service if needed.

Remember that Alabama’s Lemon Law only applies to new vehicles. If your bill of sale indicates that you bought the car with the agreement and understanding that it was purchased “as is” there is no warranty.

Buckle up, drive safely and as always your referrals are appreciated! 256-764-0112

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