Q & A

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Lemon Law Questions & Answers

Q. Should you retain an attorney?

A. Definitely. I have substantially greater negotiation power and can achieve better results. I have worked successfully in the consumer field for over 10 years developing extensive legal knowledge and I know the contacts within the manufacturers. Further, if I can't collect anything for you, then I am not entitled to a fee.

Q. Which vehicles are covered by Michigan’s Lemon Law?

A. The Lemon Law applies to passenger cars, sport utility vehicles, pickup trucks, and vans that are purchased or leased in Michigan or purchased or leased by a Michigan resident (regardless of whether the vehicle was purchased or leased in Michigan) and covered by a manufacturer's express warranty at the time of purchase or lease. The Lemon Law does not apply to motor homes, buses, trucks other than pickups and vans, motorcycles, or off-road vehicles.

Q. What kinds of problems are covered by the Lemon Law?

A. The Lemon Law protects a consumer whose new motor vehicle has a "defect or condition that impairs the use or value of the new motor vehicle to the consumer." Significantly, the law now measures the defect or condition from the point of view of the individual consumer, not the manufacturer or dealer. Clearly, an engine, transmission, brake or steering defect may meet this level of impairment. However, a persistent intermittent defect, such as a water leak, noxious odor, or paint problem may also be a defect or condition entitling the consumer to relief under the Lemon Law.

Q. How do I know if I have a “lemon” covered by the Lemon Law?

A. The consumer may invoke the Lemon Law if:

1. The new motor vehicle has been subject to repair a total of 4 or more times within 2 years of the date of the first attempt to repair the defect or condition, or,

2. The new motor vehicle is out of service because of repairs for a total of 30 or more days during the manufacturer's warranty period or the first year, whichever is earlier.

If you believe that you may have a lemon, please call Ron immediately for a free review: 1-888-737-8001

Q. If the Lemon Law does not apply, are there other laws that might help a buyer or lessee?

A. The Lemon Law is only one law protecting buyers and lessees. Consumers may also pursue claims under the Michigan Consumer Protection Act, Michigan Uniform Commercial Code, Federal Magnuson-Moss Warranty Act, and other contract remedies. For more information, consumers may contact the Attorney General's Consumer Protection Division.

Q. Under the Lemon Law, do I have a right to return my vehicle within three days of purchase?

A. No. The remedies provided by the Lemon Law, which include the right to return your vehicle and receive a refund of the purchase or lease price, are not triggered until the vehicle is subjected to a reasonable number of repairs.

Q. Is there a time period within which the initial attempted repair must occur?

A. Yes. The buyer or lessee must have done the initial repair during the first year of delivery. The remaining three repairs, for the same defect, must occur within two years from the initial repair attempt. Alternatively, the vehicle must be out of service for repair for 30 or more days during the term of the manufacturer's express warranty or within 1 year of delivery, whichever is earlier.

Q. What is considered a reasonable number of repair attempts?

A. It is presumed that a reasonable number of repair attempts have been taken if one of the following occurs:

  1. The same defect or condition continues to exist even though the car has been subjected to repair a total of four or more times within two years of the date of the first attempt to repair the defect or condition.
  2. The vehicle is out of service because of repairs for a total of 30 or more days or parts of days during the term of the manufacturer's express warranty or within one year from the date of delivery to the original consumer, whichever comes first.  This option does not require the same problem to be the cause of the days out of service.
 

Q. What if the problem I reported to the manufacturer or its authorized dealer continues to persist?

A. You may be able to obtain a refund of the purchase or lease price or a comparable replacement vehicle if the problem persists after a reasonable number of repair attempts.

Q. Does the buyer or lessee have the option of requesting a refund or replacement vehicle?

Yes. The buyer or lessee has the right to demand a refund or may choose to accept a comparable replacement motor vehicle currently in production. If a lessee agrees to accept a replacement vehicle, the lease agreement cannot be changed, except to substitute the vehicle identification number.

Q. My vehicle still isn’t fixed after a reasonable number of repair attempts, how do I get a refund or replacement?

A. Before you take any of these steps, call Ron at 1-888-737-8001

You must give the manufacturer one last opportunity to repair the vehicle by giving the manufacturer written notice, by return receipt service, of the need to repair the vehicle.  Notice can be given at any time after the third attempt to repair the same defect or condition or at any time after the vehicle has been out of service for at least 25 days in a repair facility.

After receiving notice, the manufacturer must notify you as soon as reasonably possible of a reasonably accessible repair facility to take your vehicle to have it repaired.  After delivery of the vehicle to the designated repair facility, the manufacturer has five business days to repair the vehicle.  If the vehicle is not repaired within five business days, you may receive a comparable replacement vehicle or a refund of the purchase or lease price.

If a manufacturer has established or participates in an informal dispute settlement procedure, the Lemon Law does not apply to any consumer who has not first resorted to such procedure, if the procedure does all of the following:

  1. Complies with the Magnuson-Moss warranty - federal trade commission improvement act, Public Law 93-637, 88 Stat. 2183, and 16 C.F.R. 703 (1975);
  2. Requires that the manufacturer to be bound by a decision that the consumer agrees to;
  3. Provides that the consumer is not obligated to accept the decision and may pursue the remedies provided by the Lemon Law; and
  4. Requires the manufacturer to begin the process of implementing any final settlement not more than 30 days after the settlement has been reached.

Q. If the manufacturer offers a replacement vehicle, can I demand a refund instead?

A. Yes. As the buyer or lessee, you have the right to demand a refund or you may choose to accept a comparable replacement motor vehicle currently in production.  If you are leasing the vehicle, and agree to accept a replacement vehicle, the lease agreement cannot be changed, except to substitute the vehicle identification number.

Q. If I want a refund, what is included in the purchase or lease price?

A. The "purchase price" of the vehicle is the actual vehicle sales price listed on the buyer's order including any cash payment, trade-in allowance, sales tax, license and registration fees and other government charges. The "lease price" means the actual sales price paid by the lessor and includes the same additions as the "purchase price." Excluded are debts from other transactions as well as customer discounts, rebates and incentives.

Q. What is considered the purchase or lease price for purposes of a refund under the Lemon Law?

A. The purchase price or lease price includes the cost of any options or other modifications installed or made by or for the manufacturer, and the amount of all other charges made by or for the manufacturer, less a reasonable allowance for your use of the vehicle and an amount equal to any appraised damage that is not attributable to normal use or to the defect or condition. Further, the manufacturer must reimburse you for towing costs and reasonable costs for a comparable rental vehicle that were incurred as a direct result of the defect or condition.

Q. Must the buyer or lessee resort to the manufacturer’s arbitration procedure before filing a claim in the court system to pursue Lemon Law remedies?

A. No, unless the manufacturer's mediation procedure conforms to Federal Trade Commission regulations and the manufacturer expressly requires the consumer to resort to the mediation process. Many manufacturers' mediation procedures do not meet the requirements of the Federal Trade Commission regulations.

Q. If I go through mediation, is the decision binding on me?

A. No. The manufacturer is bound by the decision, but the consumer is not. Some manufacturers are trying to force binding arbitration and it is very important to know which applies. Call our office to discuss this issue if it applies.

Q. If the buyer decides to bring a lawsuit against the manufacturer and wins in court, can attorney fees also be recovered?

A. Yes. The law authorizes the court to award reasonable attorney fees to a buyer who wins in court.

Q. Can the manufacturer deduct an amount for the use of the vehicle prior to its return?

A. Yes. The statute sets out a complex formula to be used in calculating a "reasonable allowance for use," which takes into account the purchase or lease price, the number of miles driven, and other factors

Q. Can the manufacturer or dealer cause consumers to waive their rights under the Lemon Law using a special clause in a contract?

A. No. Any contract clause which seeks to waive a consumer's rights under the Lemon Law is void.

Q. What is the first step to obtaining recovery under the Lemon Law?

A. In order to recover under the Lemon Law you must report the problem to the manufacturer or its authorized dealer within the term of the warranty or one year from the date of delivery to the original purchaser, whichever comes first.  After receiving timely notice of the problem, the manufacturer or its authorized dealer must repair the problem even if the repair cannot be performed until after the expiration of the manufacturer's express warranty.

Call Ron immediately for a free evaluation:  1-888-737-8001

Q. After my last chance letter, how long does the manufacturer have to repair my vehicle?

A. After you take the vehicle to the designated repair facility, the manufacturer has 5 business days to repair the defect or condition.

Q. Okay, I think I have a defective motor vehicle. How do I start the process?

A. The first thing a consumer should do is contact my office before contacting any manufacturer. Prior to instituting litigation, a customer must give the manufacturer notice of the defect or condition by sending what is commonly called a "last chance letter" to the manufacturer by "return receipt service." The last chance letter should be sent after the third repair attempt or after the 25th repair day. It is important to contact my office before sending this letter as every case varies.

Note: Questions and Answers Courtesy of State of Michigan Attorney General

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