By Jim Donovan

PHILADELPHIA (CBS)– From engine issues to electrical concerns, does it seem like your vehicle is in the repair shop more than it’s on the road?

In tonight’s Top 3 Tuesday, Jim Donovan has the 3 things you need to know so you can turn your lemon of a car into lemonade.

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When it comes to cars, Virginia Papaleo doesn’t have great luck.

Two of her last brand new vehicles had transmission issues!

“Every time you came to a stop sign or red light, the car would shut down and you’d have to restart it again,” said Papaleo.

And when she tried to get the cars fixed.

“They would take the car out for a ride and they’d say no you’re wrong, there’s nothing wrong with this car,” said Papaleo.

Not convinced, in both cases she sought help using the Lemon Law.

“If your car has a warranty and has been in the shop too many times for a problem, or in the shop too many days, you might be entitled to some compensation,” said Bob Silverman, an attorney who specializes in Lemon Law cases.

“Minor problems are worth minor money, major problems could be a refund, new car, or major money depending on the law,” Silverman adds.

The first thing you need to know about the Lemon Law is that it’s different in each state in regards to:

  • When the problem first needs to appear
  • The number of repair attempts you have to make
  • Even the number of days your vehicle can remain in the repair shop.
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“But when you boil every statute down to its essence, ‘I bought a bad car, they can’t fix it within a reasonable period of time,’ and that issue is a substantial impairment,” says Silverman.

Next, you need proof that you tried to get the problem fixed.

“If there’s something wrong and they say it’s normal but it doesn’t seem right, try another dealer,” Silverman says. “Make sure that the dealership service advisor writes down what you’re saying, what you’re complaining of, and not some abbreviation that doesn’t make sense. And don’t leave the dealership without that paperwork. Demand it.”

Finally, don’t blame the dealer; it’s the manufacturer that’s ultimately responsible for fixing the problem.

“A Lot of my clients are so sweet, I don’t want to get the dealer in trouble.  The dealer has no legal liability in these cases.  The manufacturer gives the warranty, the manufacturer is liable,” Silverman says.

In Mrs. Papaleo’s two transmission cases, the manufacturers bought back her vehicles.

The Lemon Law covers conditions that substantially impair a new vehicles use or safety, that includes mechanical defects or even say an issue with a car’s bluetooth technology because that could lead to distracted driving.

PA Lemon Law:

NJ Lemon Law:

DE Lemon Law:

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