Dear Driving for Dollars,
I own a car that I think is a lemon. The transmission was replaced after 18 months and it’s been in and out of the shop many times over the three years I’ve owned it. I want to get rid of it. What should I do?
— Laura

Dear Laura,
There’s nothing more frustrating than repeated car repairs, but you may or may not have a lemon. The first step is to check your state’s definition of a lemon. The Center for Auto Safety provides basic information on lemon laws and links for each state. If it is a lemon by definition, gather up all the pertinent car paperwork that proves this and call the toll-free customer service line listed in your owner’s manual. State that you have a car that qualifies as a lemon by your state’s definition, and you want it either replaced or bought back. They will most likely have a specific department that handles this.

If you get the run around, contact your state attorney general’s office and ask for assistance. If they can’t help you to your satisfaction or you want to speed things up, hire an attorney that specializes in lemon law cars. In many cases, a threatening letter from an established lemon law attorney, backed by solid information on how the car qualifies as a lemon, is all that’s needed to make an automaker resolve the situation quickly. While the attorney will cost you, it might be worth it to have the situation resolved and be driving a car that doesn’t continually need repairs.

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