This How-To guide explains how the Indiana Lemon Law works, what it says, how to use it and the steps to follow to get rid of your lemon vehicle.
What Can the Indiana Lemon Law Do If I Have a Lemon Vehicle?
Under the right circumstances, it can make the manufacturer replace or buy it back if your car or light truck had a defect that substantially impaired the use or value or safety of the vehicle and that was not, or could not, be fixed in a timely manner.
What Vehicles Are Not Covered by the Indiana Lemon Law?
The Indiana Lemon Law does not cover conversion vans, motor homes, motorcycles, mopeds, snowmobiles, off-road vehicles, farm tractors or equipment, heavy duty trucks, or vehicles with a gross vehicle weight of more than 10,000 pounds. But you may still have lemon law rights under the federal Lemon Law (technically called the Magnuson Moss Warranty Act), if your vehicle was designed for consumer use. This federal Lemon Law requires the manufacturer to repair a warranty-covered defect within a reasonable amount of time and a reasonable number of chances. You can read about it at the link below, How-To Guide: How to Get Rid of a Lemon Rv or a Lemon Motorhome.
How Do I Know If I Have a Lemon?
The manufacturer's dealer is only allowed a limited number of chances to repair defects in your vehicle. If one or more of the following circumstances occurs within the first 18 months or 18,000 miles of operation, then the manufacturer (through its repairing dealer) is automatically presumed to have made a reasonable number of attempts to repair the vehicle, and you've got a lemon. A lemon motor vehicle in Indiana is one where: the same defect has been repaired 4+ times and isn't fixed, or it's been out of service for a total of 30+ business days (Saturday is a business day too). An easy-to-use online Indiana Lemon Law Test is at the link below.
I Think I Have a Lemon, So What Do I Do Now?
Contact the manufacturer directly and start negotiating. First, write a "lemon notice" letter. If your owner manual or warranty booklet says you must notify the manufacturer, and if it tells you where to send your "lemon notice" letter, then you must send one or you can not use the Lemon Law in Court later. But you don't have to give them another repair chance. Be sure to keep a copy of your letter. If you meet any one (or more) of the definitions of a lemon vehicle, ask them to replace it or buy it back. You get your choice and they have to do it within 30 days. If they won't do it, then you may want to complain to the Indiana Attorney General's Consumer Protection Division (www.IndianaConsumer.com) or contact a private attorney. There is also a list of manufacturer addresses, and a free online "lemon notice" complaint letter generator, at the links below.
The Manufacturer Wants to Charge Me for Mileage (A "Usage Fee"), Do I Have to Do That?
In Indiana, yes, they can charge you for mileage used before the vehicle's return under the formula used in the state law. Take the current mileage number, divide it by 100,000, and then multiply it by the vehicle's contract price. In the case of a lease, multiply it by your total financial obligation at the start of the lease. For example, if you have 10,000 miles on your vehicle, when you divide that by 100,000, the result is .1 (one-tenth). If your contract price (or total lease obligation) was $40,000, then one-tenth of that is $4,000 and that is the mileage charge that is deducted from your buyback refund.
Should I File for Arbitration? What If I Don't Want to Go That Route to Get Rid of My Lemon
Most car and truck manufacturers have an "informal dispute settlement procedure" (an IDSP") that is sometimes called "arbitration." You can use their process if you want and you don't have to hire a lawyer to do it, but you may at your own cost. If you don't want to go through the factory's "dispute resolution process" (that's what they sometimes call it) you may not have to. But if the Indiana Attorney General has "certified" a manufacturer's IDSP process then you must go through that process before you can file a Lemon Law claim in Court. Still, you should talk to an experienced Lemon Law attorney about the advantages and disadvantages of it. If you aren't satisfied with the offer the manufacturer makes, or with the result of their arbitration process (if you try it), then you should discuss your case with a Lemon Law attorney and find out just how strong (or weak) your case may be.
Do I Have to Hire a Lawyer?
No, but you probably would do better if you did. Studies have shown that you usually get paid more when you have a lawyer on your side. Why? Because when you negotiate with a manufacturer you deal with professional negotiators who are paid to settle with you for as little as they can and, they are hoping it will be nothing at all if they can. This isn't going to be easy. They often tell you what they think the law is and why your case doesn't fit -- and if you don't know the law then you probably don't know how 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 purchase and repair paperwork together. If you can, write out a diary of everything that happened from beginning to end and then make an appointment to meet with your local Lemon Law attorney. There's a list of local Indiana attorney Bar Associations at the link below or go to www.USLemonLawyers.com.
How Can I Find out More about the Indiana Lemon Law and Other Consumer Protection Laws?
For more information, write to the Indiana Attorney General, Consumer Protection Division, 302 W. Washington St., Indianapolis, IN 46204. Or call the Consumer Protection Division, 1-800-382-5516, or phone a local Lemon Law lawyer (there is a national list of Lemon Law attorneys at www.USLemonLawyers.com). You can read the Indiana Lemon Law online at the link below. You can read the Indiana Lemon Law online at the link below. You can learn more about defects that may exist in your vehicle if you Check for Recalls and Repair Bulletins Online: Find out What the Federal Government Knows about Your Vehicle, at the link below. You can also find out about Secret Manufacturer Vehicle Warranties at the link below.
What Happens Next?
Your Lemon Law lawyer will decide whether to file a lawsuit or attempt to negotiate a settlement first. If the manufacturer does not make an offer that you like, then you may have to take them to Court. Your Lemon Law attorney can discuss the court process with you in detail and tell you how long it may take, what you can expect out of it, and what it may cost you (if anything at all). The Indiana Lemon Law allows the Judge to make the manufacturer pay your attorney fees too. Most importantly, you should discuss with your attorney things like your continued use of the vehicle, what to do if more defects arise, the desirability of hiring an independent expert witness, and what you can do to help win you case. The Indiana Lemon Law can help you get rid of your lemon vehicle but you should work with your attorney to get the best result for you and your family.
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