How the Ohio Lemon Law works, what it says, what kind of vehicles are covered, and how to use it to get rid of your lemon motor vehicle.
What can the Ohio 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 vehicle 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. In a motorhome vehicle case, however, the law only covers those parts which were NOT part of the permanently installed facilities for cold storage or cooking or consuming of food and for sleeping.
Is a motorhome covered by the Ohio Lemon Law?
Yes and no. You start off with the presumption that the vehicle is covered by the Ohio Lemon Law, and then take away from coverage those parts of the motor homes that are "the permanently installed facilities for cold storage, cooking and consuming of food, and for sleeping." That means if the defect deals with the food storage and preparation and eating components of the motor home, or for the sleeping components of the motor home, then the Ohio Lemon Law does not cover it. For everything else, the Ohio Lemon Law covers it.
Is a used vehicle covered by the Lemon Law?
Only if you acquired the vehicle within the first year or within the first 18,000 miles after it was sold new and you complained about defects.
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 year 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 Ohio is one where: the same defect has been repaired 3+ times and isn't fixed, or it's been out of service for a total of 30+ days, or there have been 8+ attempts to fix any defect, or there has been at least one attempt to fix a "deadly" defect and it didn't work.
I think I have a lemon, so what do I do now?
You are entering the negotiation phase of the process. Contact the manufacturer directly. Write a letter, write an email, send a fax, make a phone call. And make notes of everything as it happens. And send copies to the dealer too. If the problem has not been fixed and 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. If they won't do it, then you may want to complain to the Ohio Attorney General's Consumer Protection Office or contact a private attorney. Make notes of everything that you say to them and they say to you, so you have a record in case you need it later.
The manufacturer wants to charge me for my mileage (a "usage fee"), do I have to do that?
No. In Ohio there is no deduction allowed, but outside of the court process it is all negotiable so you can expect they may ask you to do that in order to get a quicker settlement. It's up to you to decide if you are willing to do that.
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 a settlement process that is sometimes called "arbitration" and 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 don't have to but 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 arbitration (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 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? You have to realize that when you try to negotiate with a manufacturer you will be dealing 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 it 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 paperwork together and 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.
How can I find out more about the Ohio Lemon Law and other consumer protection laws for lemon owners?
For more information, write to the Ohio Attorney General, Consumer Protection Office, 30 E. Broad St., 14th floor, Columbus, OH 43215-3428. Or call the Consumer Protection Office, 1-877-244-6446. For online information go to www.OhioLemonLaw.com for more information or legal help.
What happens next?
Your lemon law lawyer will decide whether to file a lawsuit or attempt to negotiate "pre-suit" (which means without filing a lawsuit). If they don't make an offer that you can live with then you can expect that a lawsuit will likely be necessary. Your lemon law attorney can discuss the court process with you in detail 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, the desireability of hiring an independent expert witness, and what you can do to help win you case.
Additional resources provided by the author
The Ohio Lemon Law can help you get rid of your lemon vehicle but you should work with your Ohio lemon law attorney closely to get the best result. Here are some more resources you can turn to for more information, answers, and help.
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