Lemon Laws in Florida
In a state known for growing lemons, Florida Lemon Laws are actually meant to protect car buyers and not citrus farmers. The farmers have their own set of laws. For car buyers, the lemon law covers only new cars that were bought in the state. New is defined as a car that is still under the manufacturer’s basic warranty.
The lemon laws also apply to lease cars if the the driver is responsible for any repair costs. What the Florida Lemon Laws won’t cover are any trucks that tip the scales at 10,000 pounds, ATVs, motorcycles, mopeds or RVs. For everyone else with a car that’s not working and can’t be fixed, you may be eligible for a replacement or refund. First you’ll need to qualify.
Florida Lemon Law Qualifications
Most people consider a lemon car to be a car that constantly breaks down even when it’s new. That’s basically right, but these break downs need to be something that can be traced back to the manufacturer’s error. It can’t be the result of an accident you might have been involved in or neglect.
To get the Florida Lemon Law process rolling, you will have to report the defect with your car within the first two years of taking ownership. You will also have to have made what they call a “reasonable number of repair attempts.” In Florida, “reasonable” means at least three times. If the defect in question has also prevented you from being able to use the car for at least thirty days (not in a row) then you might also qualify for remedy.
You will have to notify the original car manufacturer of the problem by certified mail. They will have the option to try one last attempt at fixing your car before the next step. That next step will be an arbitration hearing.
Florida Lemon Law Arbitration Hearing
The only time you should go to arbitration is if the car maker hasn’t lived up to their end of the bargain. They might have their own internal lemon car replacement policies. Of course, that doesn’t mean they always use them. Once you feel that the car maker isn’t doing what they should be doing, you can present your case to the Florida New Motor Vehicle Arbitration Board. This is controlled by the State Attorney General.
After your case has been approved for arbitration, you’ll be allowed to present your evidence of the defect and repair attempts to a panel consisting of three arbitrators. The more written detail you have, the stronger your case will be. Not only should this include your own notes, but also any statements and repair invoices from the mechanic.
The car maker also will be presenting their own side, but this isn’t like a “Law & Order” trial. You don’t need a lawyer to make your case. If the board rules in your favor then you get to pick whether you want a replacement car or total refund. The rulings are final unless there is an appeal. The car maker has 30 days to file an appeal. If they don’t, they’ll need to rectify the situation within 40 days.