A. Possibly, but the used vehicle must still be under a manufacturer's warranty at the time of the consumer's complaints. For example, if the car is just a few years old and still under warranty, and the consumer experiences substantial problems, it is quite possible that the car is covered by the Lemon Law. Alternatively, if the car is a number of years old and the manufacturer's warranty expired, the Lemon Law will probably not apply.
Q. Before I can pursue a Lemon Law claim in court, do I first need to go through arbitration?
A. No. Arbitration may offer some advantages, but may have great disadvantages as well. Generally, manufacturers and dealers prefer a consumer to proceed to arbitration rather than litigate the case in court. Similarly, manufacturers and dealers would rather consumers be unrepresented and not hire a lawyer at all. It is highly recommended that consumers contact an attorney immediately to discuss whether arbitration is advisable. Typically, consumers are usually better off not going through the arbitration process that is established by the manufacturer.
Q. Does the Lemon Law apply to vehicles that are more than one year old?
Q. Does the Lemon Law apply to vehicles that have more than 18,000 miles?
Q. Is there a specific number of repair attempts that must be given before a consumer can have a valid Lemon Law claim?
A. No, but a Lemon Law claim is typically more viable if the vehicle has been: (1) repaired at least four times for the same problem (or two times if the issue is safety-related); OR (2) in the repair-shop for a total of at least 30 days for any variety of problems. The Lemon Law provides a legal presumption that a vehicle is a "lemon" if either one of the above options occurs within the first 18 months of the vehicle's life or 18,000 miles, whichever first applies.
Q. Is it true that the Lemon Law only applies to "major defects" such as problems with the power-train?
A. No. The Lemon Law might apply to an assortment of problems with the vehicle. The law is designed with the purpose of providing the consumer with what he or she initially bargained for-a vehicle that functions correctly and looks the way it was designed to. The Lemon Law may even apply to issues unrelated to the mechanics of the vehicle, such as defective accessories or a substandard paint job. On the other hand, the Lemon Law typically does not apply to very trivial problems.
Q. Before I can pursue a Lemon Law claim in court, do I first need to give the manufacturer notice and an opportunity to repair the problem?
A. It is a good idea to first give the manufacturer an opportunity to repair or repurchase the vehicle before filing a lawsuit. However, each case depends on the specific facts involved and this sort of decision should be discussed with your attorney. Sometimes, waiting too long could be detrimental to a Lemon Law claim. After persuading consumers to give dealers several opportunities to repair the car, spanning over a period of years, manufacturers have rejected Lemon Law claims on the ground that the consumers took too long to bring the problems to the manufacturer's attention.
Q. Does the Lemon Law apply to vehicles that are purchased "as-is"?
A. Generally not because, for the most part, "as is" vehicles do not have a manufacturer's warranty. A manufacturer's warranty is required for a Lemon Law claim to be pursued.
Q. Does the Lemon Law apply to boats, RVs or motorcycles?
A. The Lemon Law does not apply to off-road vehicles; however, it will apply to vehicles that are primarily used on the roads. Although the Lemon Law does not apply to boats and off-road vehicles, these kinds of consumer goods may be covered under similar laws. RVs can be covered, depending on the specific type of problems you are having. It is best to consult an attorney specializing in this complex area of the law to assess your particular situation and to determine if you may have a claim.
Q. What should I expect after making a Lemon Law claim?
A. Generally, some attorneys first send a "demand letter" to the manufacturer to provide it with an opportunity to repair, replace, or buy back the vehicle (at your option). A prompt settlement can sometimes be reached, if the manufacturer agrees. If the manufacturer does not agree, and if there is an actionable claim, the vehicle owner typically will proceed to have his or her attorney file a lawsuit in the appropriate court.
Additional resources provided by the author
National Highway Traffic Safety Administration
The Center for Auto Safety
US Code – Consumer Product Warranties
Buying a Car Tips
DISCLAIMER: All of the materials appearing herein are for informational purposes only and cannot be treated as legal advice. Legal advice depends on the specific facts of the particular matter at issue. Accordingly, you should not rely on or act on any information provided herein without consulting with legal counsel that is licensed to practice law in your jurisdiction. Use of, or any reliance on, this guide does not create an attorney-client relationship between you and Arthur J. Obolsky, Esq. The act of sending electronic mail to Arthur J. Obolsky, Esq. will not create an attorney-client relationship. Arthur J. Obolsky, Esq. assumes no liability or responsibility for any errors or omissions in the content contained in this guide. All content and interpretation of the law that may appear herein is subject to revision. Arthur J. Obolsky, Esq. disclaims all liability in respect to actions taken or not taken based on any or all of the contents of this guide to the fullest extent of the law.