George was the proud owner of a new luxury sedan. After just three weeks, however, he noticed a problem: As the car reached 2,500 rpm, in any gear, it would lose power. Penny had her new compact pickup for only a day when she began to hear rattles and squeaks coming from within the dashboard. Both were brand-new vehicles, and both developed problems shortly after leaving the dealership. Unacceptable? Yes. Lemons? Not necessarily.

In Penny's case, although the sound was annoying, she could still drive the truck, and in one visit to the dealership to notify them of the noise, they were able to fix it. For George, the loss in power was a significant mechanical problem and turned into multiple visits to the dealer's service department.After the fourth repair attempt, George was told it was simply a "computer adjustment" and would be fixed when the car was due for service. Not happy with that answer, he demanded that the dealership continue to work on it-which they did, on and off for 18 months. With the problem still not solved, the dealership shipped the car to its factory test center, where they worked on it for another five weeks, then returned it with a letter from the manufacturer claiming the the so-called problem was a design characteristic of the car. Frustrated that manufacturer would not admit there was a problem and let him turn the car back in, George contacted a lemon-law attorney.

"He shouldn't have put up with such a serious issue for so long," says Jim Lewis, owner of Valley Automotive Consulting, in Ambler, Pennsylvania, who works with law firms, dealers, and private citizens regarding dealer fraud and lemon laws. "George handled it correctly. The manufacturer blew it off." Is this typical? Lewis told us no, manufacturers do not normally ignore such serious and repetitive vehicle issues. Why? Lemon laws.