How Does a Car Qualify for Lemon Laws?
It is usually pretty obvious to the consumer that they have purchased a lemon and they are aware that there is a lemon law in their state, but do you know how to determine whether your vehicle qualifies for relief?
Most consumers know that there is a lemon law in Texas and other states, but few consumers know how to determine whether their vehicles would qualify for relief. As is often the case with legal matters, there is not always a simple answer to that question. Our experienced lemon law attorneys are always willing to review your vehicle’s history to see if you might be able to pursue a claim. In general, we are interested in reviewing your vehicle’s history if it was purchased or leased new (or used but it was still under warranty when you bought or leased it), and: • it has been repaired at least 3 times for the same problem, OR
- it has been in the shop for repairs for a total of 30 days or longer, OR
- it has been repaired at least 8 times total for the same problem or different problems, OR
it has been subject to 1 failed repair attempt for a defect that could cause death or serious injury
The simplest way to determine if your vehicle is a “lemon” is to speak with an experienced lemon law attorneys by calling or filling out our form for a free lemon case review. Even if you think your vehicle does not meet the requirements for relief, you have nothing to lose by calling us, except of course for that lemon you are driving. There are exceptions to the above rules and there are also other laws which we may be able to use to pursue a claim for your defective vehicle or consumer product. Our review of your situation is always free, regardless of whether or not you become our client.
TYPES OF VEHICLES COVERED
Usually the Texas lemon law will only apply to a vehicle which was purchased or leased new and came with a warranty. However, if you bought or leased a used car which came with a warranty, you may still qualify for relief under the Texas lemon law or the Federal Magnuson-Moss Warranty Act. The Warranty Act covers all consumer products sold in this country which were priced more than $10 and which came with some sort of warranty. The Warranty Act is most frequently used for motor vehicle cases, but the lemon law attorneys represent clients under the Warranty Act in cases involving campers, travel trailers, motor homes, small and large boats, personal watercraft (e.g. Jet-Ski’s), refrigerators, washer/dryer sets, televisions, computers and many other consumer products.
Texas’s lemon law covers non-commercial passenger cars and other motor vehicles, such as pick-up trucks, motorcycles, motor homes (excluding the living and storage areas), all-terrain vehicles (ATV’s) and motorized scooters. Leased vehicles are covered under the Texas Lemon Law the same as if you had purchased the vehicle. Non-commercial generally means that the vehicle must be used for personal, family or household purposes. Business vehicles are often excluded unless you use it as your personal vehicle as well.
LEMON LAW COVERAGE PERIOD
Texas’s lemon law, like all state lemon laws, has a specific period after the original delivery of the vehicle during which your vehicle can possibly qualify for lemon law assistance. The lemon law coverage period in Texas is one year or 18,000 miles from the date of original delivery, whichever comes first. The Texas Supreme Court defined “original delivery” as the date of a vehicle’s delivery to its first titled owner. Therefore, you can still qualify for lemon law relief if you bought the vehicle used (or as a demo model), so long as it was repaired at least once before one year or 18,000 miles after it was delivered to its first owner.
There are sometimes exceptions to the general rules. As explained above, you also may qualify for compensation under the Federal Magnuson-Moss Warranty Act even if you don’t qualify under your state’s lemon law.
LEMON LAW REPAIR ATTEMPT PRESUMPTIONS
The Texas lemon law requires that the manufacturer and/or its authorized dealers repair a defect in your vehicle (which is first reported within the lemon law time period) within a “reasonable” number of repair attempts. “Reasonable” is a word which is used every day in just about every area of the law in a number of different contexts. To make it clearer what Texas’s legislature felt was a “reasonable” number of attempts, the Texas lemon law defines it for us through the use of “presumptions.” The Texas lemon law states that it is presumed that the manufacturer and/or its authorized dealers have failed to repair your vehicle within a “reasonable” number of repair attempts if any of the following circumstances apply:
- Substantially the same nonconformity has been subject to repair 3 or more times and either continues to exist or recurs after the 3rd repair opportunity; OR
- Your vehicle is out of service by reason of repair for a total of 30 or more calendar days; OR
- There have been 8 or more attempts to repair any nonconformity in your vehicle (i.e. 8 total repair attempts for any problems); OR
- There has been at least one attempt to repair a nonconformity that results in a condition that is likely to cause death or serious bodily injury if the vehicle is driven, and the nonconformity either continues to exist or recurs after that one repair opportunity.
In addition, the Texas Supreme Court has ruled that the 30 days out of service presumption under the Texas lemon law is essentially absolute. A consumer is entitled to relief under the Texas lemon law regardless of whether the defect or nonconformity is repaired after the 30 days have passed.
Not every defect in your vehicle would always qualify for lemon law relief. Texas’s lemon law defines a “nonconformity” as “any defect or condition that substantially impairs the use, value, or safety of a motor vehicle to the consumer and does not conform to the express warranty of the manufacturer or distributor.” This definition was intended to except from the Texas lemon law very minor or trivial problems which do not substantially impact the use, value, or safety of your vehicle.
You should not just assume that because you don’t meet any of the four presumptions above, or because you think the problem with your vehicle might be deemed to be trivial, that there is nothing you can do. Let an experienced lemon law attorney make that decision for you.