Dear Driving for Dollars,

I bought a new car five months ago that has already been in the shop a bunch because it is consuming oil at an unusually high rate and there is white sludge in the oil. I think the life span of the car has been lowered because of these issues, and I don’t want to keep a car that won’t last. What can I do?

— Chuck

Dear Chuck,

It sounds like you may have bought a lemon car. The first step is to check your state’s definitions of a lemon car. The Center for Auto Safety website provides basic information on lemon laws and links for each state. If it is a lemon car by definition, then gather all of the pertinent car paperwork that proves this and call the toll-free customer service line of the brand of your car. You can find the number in your owner’s manual. Explain that you have a lemon car by your state’s definition and you want it either replaced or bought back.

If you don’t get the help you need, contact your state attorney general’s office and ask for assistance or hire an attorney who specializes in lemon cars. In many states, the attorney’s fees will be reimbursed if you win your lemon law case. You can also sue to have the fees reimbursed under the federal Magnuson-Moss Warranty Act.

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If you have a car question, email it to us at Driving for Dollars. Read more Driving for Dollars columns and Bankrate auto stories.

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