Tennessee's lemon law, which protects consumers against dud cars, doesn't apply to used cars. However, if you've purchased a car that's a lemon, you may have some recourse against the seller with a number of other laws in Tennessee that protect consumers. If you can't find a specific law that covers your purchase, you may still be covered by federal consumer protections laws.
Several warranty laws protect Tennessee consumers against used cars that are lemons. They include the Magnuson-Moss Warranty act, which protects purchasers of used vehicles by stating the manufacturer must abide by the vehicle's warranty: this includes service contracts, written warranties and implied warranties. According to Tennessee law, a dealer has an implied obligation to sell a sound car. However, a dealer can skirt around the law by selling a car "as is."
Warrant of Merchability
When you purchase a car, your expectation is that you should be able to drive the car away from the lot and that it's in good working condition. The warrant of merchability states that the vehicle should run like it's supposed to after you purchased it. If there's a defect that stops the car from working as it should, you should be able to get recourse. However, you must prove that the defect was present at the time of sale.
Uniform Commercial Code
If you make a claim under the warrant of merchability, the expectation is that you should be able to get your money back. However, it's possible that the dealer will claim the defect was not present at the time of sale and will deny you claim. If that happens, you may be able to get recourse under the federal Uniform Commercial Code, which can theoretically be used to cancel the sale of used cars.
Federal Laws Protecting Tennessee Consumers
The Federal Trade Commissions Used Car Rule mandates that Tennessee dealers post a Buyer's Guide on all used cars they sell. The Buyer's Guide contains information about the car and becomes part of your contract. If there is conflicting wording in the sales contract, the buyer's guide overrides that warning. In addition, if the car you purchased isn't that old, you may still be protected by federal lemon laws even though the car was sold as used.
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