Lemon Law FAQ

Frequently Asked Questions about Lemon Law

Always report defects directly to the manufacturer or the dealer as soon as you discover them. One of the best favors you can do for yourself is to keep good records of your interaction with the dealership or manufacturer and keep all of your receipts.— Always get a dated and detailed print out when you take the vehicle in to get it fixed. It should include any charges for parts and labor, a general description of the problem, the odometer reading at the time you brought the vehicle in for repair, and also when you pick up the car, as well as a list of all work performed. It should also state the date the vehicle was brought in for repair and the date you picked up the car. Insist on receiving these statements (it’s your right under the law). Store them somewhere safe.

What is a “Lemon Law”?

A “Lemon law” is a generic term for laws that protect consumers from defective products and vehicles. In the state of Pennsylvania, the Automobile Lemon Law applies to any new vehicle that is both purchased and legally registered in the state of Pennsylvania for personal/family use and able to carry up to 15 people.

Does the Lemon Law apply to all vehicles?

The Pennsylvania law states that the manufacturer of a vehicle is obligated, at no cost to the consumer or buyer, to repair or remedy any defect that adversely affects the safety, use, or value of the vehicle that occurs either within the first year, during the first 12,000 miles, or during the automobile manufacturer’s express warranty (whichever comes first).

Are all Problems Covered under the Lemon Law?

The Lemon Law only covers specific problems under specific conditions. The following are not covered by the lemon law:

  • Problems or defects that do not significantly impair the vehicle’s use, value, or safety.
  • Any problem that is attributable to the vehicle owner’s own negligence.
  • Defects that are caused by an accident, vandalism, or acts of God.
  • Problems that arise from work being done by someone other than the manufacturer, an authorized dealer, etc.

What Constitutes a Defect?

The Lemon Law only covers defects that substantially and adversely affect the safety, value, or use of the vehicle. However, what constitutes “substantial” is for an arbitrator, judge, or jury to decide. To have a viable case, it is necessary to prove that your vehicle has been substantially affected. The surest way to accomplish this is to show that your present vehicle has a substantially lower value on the market directly because of the particular impairment.

How many times does a manufacturer have to try and repair a vehicle before you have a valid Lemon Law claim?

Generally, the answer is 3 attempts. If the manufacturer cannot remedy the defect after three attempts, then the problem will go to arbitration. If a manufacturer has no settlement dispute system in place, you may immediately sue the manufacturer. Another scenario for gaining remedy is if the vehicle is off the road for 30 or more days because of a defect that is attributable to the manufacturer.

What happens during Lemon Law Arbitration?

Most major automobile manufacturers sponsor arbitration programs that provide free informal hearings to resolve any disputes involving new cars. Consumers do not have to accept the results of the arbitration process and may take their case directly to court. You may waive certain rights by foregoing the full arbitration program.

Repair Costs

Most manufacturers’ warranties cover repairs for at least the first year after it is delivered or during the first 12,000 miles, whichever comes first. If your warranty ends and you still need repairs, you probably have to pay for them, are needed after your warranty has ended, you must pay for the repairs. However, you can probably recover these costs if your vehicle is later proven to be a lemon. This is why it is so important to keep your receipts when you go in for repairs. For leased vehicles, the leasing contract will indicate who is responsible for such repair costs.

Repair Time

The Lemon Law allows the manufacturer a reasonable amount of time to repair or correct the defect-3 attempts to repair the same defect or a total of 20 cumulative calendar days off the road.

As stated before, in order to file a claim with the Division of Consumer Affairs, you are required to give the manufacturer one last chance to fix the defect. You must send a letter to the manufacturer (not the dealer) by certified mail, return receipt requested (proof that the manufacturer received your letter), stating that you may have a claim and that you are giving the manufacturer one last chance to repair the defect. Once the manufacturer receives the letter, they have 10 calendar days to try and repair the defect. If they cannot, you are legally entitled to refund you the value of the vehicle or replace the vehicle.