More states are adopting 'lemon laws'

Automotive ''lemon laws'' continue to sprout as more and more states act to protect consumers from getting ''squeezed'' when they buy a new car. A new Florida law, which takes effect Oct. 1, requires carmakers to replace the car or refund the purchase price if, after three attempts, a dealer cannot resolve a complaint. It applies to cars under warranty or during the first year of ownership, whichever is shorter.

The New York Legislature passed a ''lemon law'' in early June which, in effect, extends the warranty for two years or 18,000 miles. If a car owner returns his car to a dealership four times for the same defect, or if the car is in the shop 30 days, he can ask for replacement or refund.

Most manufacturers' warranties cover 12 months or 12,000 miles, whichever comes first.

Besides Florida and New York, lemon laws also are on the books in California and Connecticut, the first two states to enact them, as well as New Jersey, Minnesota, Wyoming, Montana, Maine, Nebraska, Nevada, and Washington. A lemon-law bill is slowly rolling through the Massachusetts Legislature. Perhaps a dozen other states are debating the issue.

While they deny it is a response to the rash of lemon laws now piling up, carmakers also are widening their own arbitration procedures as Ford Motor Company goes nationwide with its program.

Nor are automobile dealers themselves left entirely up a tree. A new Delaware law is designed to protect dealers from same-vehicle competition in their own ''territory.''

Under the law, a new Chevrolet dealership, for example, cannot be established within a specified distance of an existing Chevrolet dealership.

The Federal Trade Commission says the law could cause higher retail prices for new cars due to a damper on competition.

Meanwhile, Saab-Scania of America, based in Orange, Conn., will build city buses in the United States, starting in the fall of 1984. The company will ship the chassis from Sweden, building the bodies and attaching them to the chassis in Orange. At least half the finished bus is expected to be of domestic origin.

Saab-Scania, which has been testing some of its buses in several American cities, has long built city buses for Europe.

The highly rated, and fastm, Mazda RX-7 sports car is getting a new boost - at least in Japan.

The engine has been modified, with a new intake manifold and a 15 percent improvement in breathing efficiency at high speed, thus improving the road performance of the rotary-powered car.

Mazda hasn't said when, or whether, the upgraded car will be shipped to the US.

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