What can the Minnesota Used Motor Vehicle Lemon Law do for me if I have a lemon used vehicle?
Would you like it finally fixed or your money back? If you've got a lemon used car, pickup truck or van, then the Minnesota Used Car Lemon Law can make the dealer offer to fix it or to buy it back if they fail to fix any covered defect. But you have to file your case within one year of your warranty expiration date or your rights expire. And only defects which are covered by the used car lemon law count in Minnesota While the Minnesota Used Car Lemon Law gives you some protection, it does not give you the right to tell the dealer that you want your money back. The dealer can, instead, just offer to fix it. But you may have other legal rights that are more powerful under other laws, so talk to a local Lemon Law attorney near you to find out for sure what all of your rights are.
What kind of vehicles are covered by Minnesota's Used Car Lemon Law?
Only used cars, pickup trucks or vans bought or leased from a car dealer and costing at least $3,000, less than 8 years old, and which have less than 75,000 miles on them are covered. Custom built cars are not covered and neither are vehicles that are used for business purposes. And no cars that are manufactured in "limited quantities" are covered - nor vehicles with diesel engines. Last, any car that has a salvage title is not covered either. But some used vehicles that are not covered by the Minnesota Used Car Lemon Law may still be covered by the federal Lemon Law (the Magnuson Moss Warranty Act) as long as the dealer gave the buyer a written warranty of any length at all. New vehicles have their own lemon law in Minnesota so the Minnesota Ucar Lemon Law does not apply to new vehicles at all.
How long is my used car warranty under the Minnesota Used Car Lemon Law?
When you buy a used car in Minnesota you automatically get a warranty from the dealer - even if the dealer doesn't give you a document that says so. How long is the warranty for? That depends on how many miles were on the car when you got it. Here's a chart that explains it. Up to 36,000 miles? 60 days or 2,500 mile warranty, covering the engine, transmission, drive axle, brakes, steering system, water pump, some fuel pumps, radiator, and the main parts of the ignition system. 36,000 to 75,000 miles? 30 days or 1,000 mile warranty, covering the rack, the radiator, and the main parts of the ignition system.
Can a Dealer sell a vehicle "as is" under this law?
Yes, but they have to mark the box for "as is" that appears on the "Buyers Guide" form that federal law requires to be posted on every used car that is for sale at a car dealer. This Buyer Guide form is sometimes called the used car window sticker. Also, if the dealer discloses on the Buyer Guide form that a particular part is not working properly, they can get you to waive your lemon law rights for that part if you sign and circle the statement. You can see what the Buyers Guide federal used car window sticker form looks like by clicking here; http://www.ohiolemonlaw.com/pdf/Used-Car-Window-Sticker-Form.pdf
How do I know if I have a a used car that is a lemon under the Minnesota Used Car Lemon Law?
The dealer is only allowed a resonable number of chances and a reasonable amount of time to repair problems that are covered by your used vehicle warranty. What is reasonable depends on the type of defect and surrounding circumstances. If the dealer wants to, it can instead offer to buy your vehicle back and refund your money, but the dealer only has to pay you all the vehicle cost, including a portion of the taxes, plus any towing expenses. The dealer must repair any problem covered by your warranty for free. If they don't get it fixed, and they don't offer to buy your vehicle back, then you have a right to file a claim against the dealer.
What about certified pre owned cars - are they covered by the Minnesota Used Car Lemon Law?
Yes. In fact, it is illegal for a dealer to advertise a car as being "certified" if the dealer knows or should have known that the odometer was not actual miles or it was previously bought back by the manufacturer under any state or federal warranty law or the title is branded with a notation that indicates it is damaged, flood, junk, lemon law buyback, rebuilt, salvage or similar wording. It is also illegal if the dealer knows or should have known that the car was in an accident or fire or flood that substantially impaired the use or safety of the vehicle, if it had frame damage, if it wasn't inspected by the dealer, if it is being sold "as is" or if the dealer disclaims any warranties of merchantability on the vehicle.
I think I have a lemon, so what do I do now?
Start negotiating. Contact the dealer. Write a short and simple letter, an email, send a fax, make a phone call. And keep a copy. Your letter should just say you think you have a lemon, it's their fault, and tell them you want your money back or you want it fixed. If the problem has not been fixed, ask them to buy it back. If the dealer tries to repair it and fails, ask them to buy it back. Make notes of everything that you say to them and what they say to you, so you have a record in case you need it later. If they don't resolve it satisfactory to you, then you may want to complain to the Minnesota Attorney General or contact a private Lemon Law attorney near you. If you aren't satisfied with the offer the dealer makes, then you should discuss your case with a local Lemon Law attorney but act quick before you lose your Lemon Law rights. You only have one year from your warranty expiration date to start your case in Court.
The dealer wants to charge me for my mileage (a "usage fee"), do I have to do that?
Yes. The dealer can deduct a reasonable amount for your use of the vehicle but not more than ten cents per mile drive or ten percent of the purchase price, whichever is less. But your refund must include any credit from your trade in vehicle, too, and the dealer has to pay you all the vehicle cost, including a portion of the taxes, plus any towing expenses.
Should I file for arbitration? What if I don't want to? Is arbitration a good idea?
You don't have to under the Minnesota Used Car Lemon Law. However, some dealers may have an arbitration process and you can use their process if you want and you won't have to hire a lawyer to do it. But is arbitration a good idea? Maybe. Maybe not. Some arbitration systems are good while others tend to favor the merchant-car dealer. You may have to pay part or all of the cost. Also, it's a private process so the public usually won't know what happened to you or what happened in the arbitration process either. You should talk to an experienced Lemon Law attorney about the advantages and disadvantages of arbitration, so you know what you are getting into.
Do I have to hire a lawyer? Should I hire a lawyer?
No, but you probably would do better if you did. There have been some studies done and they all come back the same way: you get paid more when you have a lawyer on your side. Why? When you try to negotiate with a car dealer you are dealing with professional negotiators who are paid to negotiate every day. In a used car lemon law case, the dealer will try to settle with you for as little as they can get away with it. This isn't going to be easy. They often tell you what they think the law is and why your case doesn't fit the lemon laaw - and if you don't know the law, you probably won't be able to argue back with them. So how do you get ready for a lawyer? First decide what it is that you want and what the minimum is that you will settle for. Next, get all your paperwork together and write out a diary of everything that happened from beginning to end and then talk with a Lemon Law attorney near you.
How can I find more free info about the Minnesota Lemon Law for used cars?
You can talk to a Minnesota Lemon Law attorney near you. Or for free Used Car Lemon Law information, contact the Minnesota Attorney General's Consumer Protection Help line by calling 800.657.3787. You can learn more by clicking on the resources below too. But don't wait too long. Remember that you only have a limited amount of time to file a claim or your rights expire.
How do I get more help?
Your lemon law lawyer will decide whether to file a lawsuit or attempt to negotiate "pre-suit" (which means without filing a lawsuit) settlement. If the dealer doesn't make an offer that you can live with, then you can expect that a lawsuit will likely be necessary. Your Minnesota used car lemon law attorney can discuss the court process with you and tell you how long it may take and what you can expect out of it. Most importantly, you should discuss with your attorney things like your continued use of the vehicle, what to do if more defects arise, and what you can do to help win you case. Remember, you only have one year from your warranty expiration date to file your case in Court or your used car lemon law rights are gone.